The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 3 August 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500803-TC-JCA-01; CL 25: 133-134


Boverton, Cowbridge, South Wales, Saturday 3 augt / 1850

My dear Sister,

I must write you a word today to indicate my whereabout, and let you know that I am well; but time is so short (the Post just approaching, and other Notes to write), it can only be one word at present. I left Chelsea on Wednesday; staid all night at Bath (90 or 100 miles off) with one Savage Landor, an honourable angry-tempered old literary gentleman; came on next morning to Bristol (10 or 15 miles), got straightway into a Welsh steamer there; sailed 2½ hours across to Cardiff, and was there taken up by Chs Redwood, my “beneficent Welsh Attorney” into his hospitable “tub-gig,” and rolled away hither some 13 or 14 miles into the interior, to his strange Hermitage here at Boverton, where I hope to continue in unexampled quietude, sea-bathing and riding, and doing nothing at all, for a week or two; and so gather vigour for farther adventures.

It is the most sequestered mode of life I ever had experience of in this world. The place is altogether in a wild unfrequented, tho' flat and not naturally unfruitful district, which extends between Cowbridge (a smartish Yellow-ochred Town, equal to Lockerby or so) and the solitary south Coast; a Country all cut with the roughest bridle-lanes in every direction, and hardly any smooth road; every mile or two a straggling sleepy sluttish-looking village, or Clachan of 50 or 100 souls (generally with some ruinous old Castle in it); and the Sea and “the English Hills” (Somersetshire Hills) always visible near by to the South. We are about a mile from the Sea-beach here, where there is excellent bathing, in perfection of solitude: Redwood goes off to Cowbridge daily to his Office after breakfast; and leaves me bird-alone in the House, where there is not even a servant to disturb me,—his two servants live in a house entering by another door, and are always within call, but not under this roof;—we are in a kind of Village “Boverton,” but cut off from it too by walls, trees, bushes and lawn, as if it were fifty miles away: at this present writing (Noon, Saturday, bright breezy weather), I have a big bay-window open, a bit of green lawn and bushes visible, and actually no sound at all audible, except the ticking of a big lobby-clock, and the general sough of the summer woods round me: so I remain, varying it as I like, till six, when Redwood returns. If this will not do for a Hermitage, there is no use trying that trade at all! Add to everything that Redwood is a very taciturn man,—not a “conversical man” by any means;—and likes and honours me very much: a man that seems to have less intercourse with neighbours than any other man now living, I shd say! Unhappily he is very dull to talk with; and if it were not for very shame I wd read altogether, as I do mostly, all the time of his presence too. He furnishes me with a capital horse (big poney kind) moreover; and I mean to have a dip in the sea every day while I am here.

Well, dear Jean, this is mainly all I had to tell you; and much more than I at first reckoned on. You have my Address now (“Boverton, Cowbridge, S. Wales” will do by itself), and you may now write at any vacant hour in the next week or 10 days.— I wrote yesterday a hurried word to my Mother; if you send this over to them, they will be glad of it too, for I was in a dreadful hurry,—and again am! The Post hour is a most inconvenient one for me.

Jesuitism I suppose came out last Thursday;1 you will soon get it, and that ends the Ball.2

Adieu, dear Jean; commend me to James and them all, till we meet. Your affectionate. T. Carlyle