TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 13 January 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480113-TC-MAC-01; CL 22: 203-205
TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE
Alverstoke, Gosport / 13 jany, 1848—
My dear Mother,
Before going to bed this (Thursday) night I will do one virtuous thing: write you a single word to satisfy where I am, and so far as may be how we are. According to my last prediction in Isabella's Letter, I set out from home yesterday about Noon,—in a feeble dampish kind of frost; Jane, considerably better, but still too weak to think of venturing with me;—and so after a ride of 3 or 4 hours, I got without accident to the Station, some mile and half off this; and found the good people's carriage waiting for me, and the good people themselves very glad to see me. I should say to see us; for Mr Milnes, the other member of the party, had joined my train towards the end of the journey (at the Station on this side of Winchester), and even stept into the carriage where I was; which proved of course a pleasant meeting to us both. We parted last at Forster's in Yorkshire; Milnes has been in Spain &c since, and here again on the Southampton railway we met.
I have not flourished very much in the way of sleep since I came hither, and today in the morning I felt as if I should have been a good deal happier at home: but by keeping quiet all day, and taking care of myself, I feel a good deal better already; and tonight, hope to get a fair sleep, which will set me on my feet again. We are just four at present, no stranger except Milnes and me; but more are coming about the end of the week: and the house, at any rate, as you know, is full of valets, servants and sublime formalities, which do not much contribute to my comfort for one's! I sat down today on a fine green place near the shore; and smoking a cigar, saw a band of cheerful Boys playing football: that is the pleasantest half-hour I have yet had here. A little farther on, more towards Portsmouth, were several large gangs of Convicts labouring, soldiers keeping watch over them with fixed bayonets: the poor wretches, sad blackguards almost all, by the looks of them, were dragging little cartloads of rubbish, stones &c, for some new dock-works that are building: they wore a dim-grey very coarse kind of jacket, their stocking have two or three broad white stripes round the leg, and at the right ancle each Convict wears an iron welded round the place, by which he can be chained at night. These were not a very pleasant spectacle!
Of course, having no news yet from home, not having got any here, I have as good as none to tell you. John I hope will have a little word on the road for me tonight; and I will keep this open till tomorrow morning, that I may tell you what it is. I expect to hear of farther improvement, for the weather too has altered for the better. The Lady has written very pressingly for Jane; but I think it is very uncertain whether she will decide to come, or whether she ought to decide,—and if she do not, I myself am not like to stay long; which too, as our life here is but a very idle one, is not perhaps much to be regretted. We shall see how it goes.
Dear Mother, I have bright lights here, and a clear glowing fire; and can figure you far off, all asleep (I hope) at Scotsbrig, with the sound of the Burn rushing past: Oh, may a good Presence be with you, dear Mother,—with you and with them all! That is my good-night: all being quiet here, I too ought to be in my bed. I hope to add a word tomorrow morning, if good news come.— How are you, in your weak state? Alas, there is no answer but one of my own shaping; however having heard so lately I will hope the best. Good night dear Mother
Your affectionate /
Friday morning. I have had a fair night's sleep, and (after breakfast) expect to feel tolerably well!— Here is John's Letter too, reporting favourably from Chelsea.