August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 9 September 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420909-TC-JAC-01; CL 15: 81-82


Troston, Ixworth, 9 Septr, 1842—

My dear Brother,

It was but this morning that I received your address from Miss Welsh, and there will barely be time for this finding you at Cheltenham. We think of returning on Monday to Chelsea; there thenceforth will be your mark to write towards.

My journey done hitherward, in the wet day, in the inside of their villainous little saltbox of a coach, was not very pleasant: I think of preferring the outside next time, let it rain as it may. Jane I found looking somewhat improved, tho' still very sad, and greatly annoyed by deficiency of sleep. Mrs Buller and all the rest of them are as kind to her as possible, and seem to take pleasure in her presence; old Mr Buller's game with her at Chess is one of the chief events of his day. Indeed they are all very kind and hospitable: the country is green, leafy, clear, and country tho' one of the flat kind; I prefer it even in rain and mud to any kind of town. I walked one day thro' lane after lane, in a very devious manner, as far as Thetford in Norfolk; a most laborious but pleasant and serviceable course for me. Next day Mrs Buller had contrived to borrow me a horse, a coarse heavy-footed but stout and quiet country quadruped, on which I have proceeded ever since far more at my ease. They have also made us drive a-visiting some people; with one set of whom, Bunburys and other right Honourables, we are to dine tomorrow, which I trust will be our one feat in that department of activity.

My grand adventure, however, has been a ride of three days into Cromwelldom; which I actually accomplished on my heavy-footed beast, with endless labour, dispiritment and annoyance, but also with adequate interest, profit, and satisfaction to many feelings. I went first to Ely; a ride of thirty miles, most of it lanes & cross-roads; at length the high Cathedral of Ely rises towering on a hilltop, over an immensity of cultivated bog (not unlike the cultivated part of Lochar Moss); a very venerable-looking place. I there, by some industry, found Oliver's house; stood on the very flags in the Cathedral where he told the Priest (contumacious at a first order), “Cease your fooling, and come out, Sir!” The huge Horseblock (louping-on [mounting] Stone) at his door is still lying there; I brought away a crumb of it in my pocket. The bells of Ely, and some treacherous green tea &c kept me awake nearly all night. Next day, my horse and self both in very bad case, I got on to Saint-Ives, Oliver's first farm; sat and smoked one of your cigars in a field which had been his;—very curious to me. The traditions about him in that region are of the vaguest conceivable: such is “immortality” so-called; I wonder what a Pitt or a Peel1 will amount to in two centuries, in comparison! “Immortality?” as my Father would have said, with one of his sharpest intonations! After two hours at Saint-Ives (a little place of some 3,000 people) I moved off to Huntingdon, O's birthplace; saw Hinchinbrook, nearby, which was his Uncle's house, and contains some excellent portraits of Civil-Wars people;—dined hastily, and rode with a terrible determination, not at all superfluous, to Cambridge the same evening: I never in my life was thirstier or wearier; the lightning flashed and blazed on the right hand of me, over all the south, from nightfall, and about an hour after my arrival (about 10 o'clock, that is) the thunder began in right earnest. Next morning, yesterday namely, I looked diligently at all Colleges &c within reach, saw Oliver's picture in his Sidney Sussex College;2 got under way again, in high wind, which became in the afternoon thick-driving rain; and about five I arrived here, sound and safe, not yet wetted to the skin. Today, of course, I am in a very baked hot feverish condition;—and unfit for writing beyond what is absolutely indispensable, for one thing. Here therefore I will cease. Charles had arrived here in the interim of my absence; he is out shooting today. He is a considerable resource for talking with. But they let one be silent here if one likes,—an excellent plan!

I wrote to my Mother from Cambridge; to you I should most probably have written had I known your Address. You will of course write, the first halt you make. God keep you, dear Brother

T. C.