January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 19 July 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590719-TC-JCA-01; CL 35: 151-152


Humbie, 19 july, 1859—

My dear Jean,

I heard from the Doctor that you were a little better; but I wish very much to hear that you are well,—at all events to hear again, how you are. I hope Jim1 and you have made out your little excursion, and are “at the sea-side,” or in some quiet fresh place; also that you have better weather than some of us have now got. Here, for instance, after a week's fierce blowing from the West, with every appearance of rain but little or none in actuality, the fall has at last actually come, and we are thick in the second day of it,—tedious dashings and splashings from the East, whh never do very much execution, and sometimes fall away almost into the state of blown “Scotch-mist,” but whh never altogether cease, and have now reduced us to a most slippery impassable and altogether muddy and imprisoned condition. Last night latish, I sallied out in defiance; had a most strange walk of 3 or 4 miles, among wood by the brink of the sea, whh, had not the path itself been so sloppy and slippery, wd have been quite tolerable, or even pleasant and interesting, so absolutely new, and unlike what one is used to, nothing but pattering rain, loud wind (mostly in the tree-tops), and solitude absolute. I have not today been out at all; but mean to have a ride by and by, however wet it be.— Jane does wonderfully hitherto, tho’ the Cuddy has stood idle since Thursday;—she went off, the day after, to Auchtertool Manse, and did not get home till yesterday (Monday) again, ever since whh time the rain has been busy more or less. Cuddy does his duty admirably, and is an unexceptionable animal; won't have almost any corn, or any at all when “full of grass, Sir,”—but the Boy2 has now realised some bran, or other such substance, whh proves very acceptable.

As for me I believe myself to be improving in health, and endeavour to be content under the confusions and obstructions of such an Establisht, and to take patiently the almost total failure to get any work done. My “work,” my undoable “work”; that is the first thing that rises on me in the mornings: “Thou wretch, how wilt thou ever do that undoable? What will become of thee!”3— This place is altogether beautiful extremely; better bathing is not in the world, nor a prettier outlook, nor purer air than here on the Hill top. Good honest people, too, tho’ very rough, unrid, and rustic in their ways. The essentials of life are all here, however; and we reckon ourselves lucky, and make no complaint. “What is to be done when Augt 6th arrives?” that is the only regretful question: and we do not yet succeed in answering it at all. I am clear for Annandale before long after leaving this: but Jane, in her feckless state, is much more difficult to dispose of.

Tell James I have never yet quite ended the “Solway Cottage” speculation.4 Adamson says there are fine sites to be had on Colvend5 shore, “belonging to the Hutton School Property”:6 if James and you took a drive down thither some bright brisk day? If James wd make inquiry in his own way, and sort out the matter for me, so that I cd say yes or no about it, on getting to the ground, it wd be a kindness to me. But he need not take too much trouble either: I am very dowie & feckless in regard to that and all other such enterprises at this time of day; the only thing I clearly perceive is that I am always healthier in the Country. Adieu, dear Sister: with kind regards to both the Jameses,7 Yours ever T. Carlyle