July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 17 August 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470817-TC-MAC-01; CL 22: 37-38


Rawden, Leeds, 17 Augt / 1847—

My dear Mother,

No doubt you are looking out for some tidings from us; I accordingly without delay send you a word of assurance that we have successfully concluded our bits of ‘Travels for the present, and are quietly set down here in Friend Forster's house; one of the pleasantest establishments we could have been left in, so far as yet appears.

We have seen all the watering places and chief “wonderful wonders of wonders” that there are in Derbyshire,—have penetrated even into “the Devil's —— i' Peak,” a horrid Cavern in the Peak Country so called:— concerning several of which illustrious wonders I have just written a longish Letter to Jean; which I have charged her to send you; so that you will likely receive it the day after this comes; and I need not say anything more on that subject here. Among the sights omitted in Jean's Letter was that of a lone old woman, living literally like a rabbit, burrowed underground: this was near Buxton; a sight worth remembering! There are huge quarries of lime there; the rubbish, ashes of the kilns &c, when many years exposed to the weather, hardens into real stone; and is then a kind of rocky mole-heap, of large dimensions, with grass &c on the top: the natives then scrape out the inside, and make a cottage of the upper crust! There are five or six such huts in that place, and used to be more. This poor old woman and her hut were all as tidy as a new pin, whitewashed, scoured &c; a most sensible haughty and even dignified old woman; had been born there, had lost father, mother, husband, son there; and was drinking her poor tea there in dignified solitude when we came; no company with her but a cat; and no wish to have any, she said, “till the Lord were pleased to take her to those she had lost.” An elder Sister, upwards of four-score, inhabiting, with some children and grandchildren, a similar cave not far off, had just fallen into the fire, and been burnt to death, two days before. None of us, I think, will ever forget that poor old woman; with her little teapot, her neat mutch [cap] and black-ribbon, her lean hook nose, and black old eyes, as sharp as eagles's! We left a shilling with her, and great respect, and came our way.— But see! I have actually talked half of my sheet almost, on the subject of my travels; of which, by the bargain, I had nothing to say here!

The sum is, dear Mother, we are well and safe; and coming, at least one of us, towards you; right thankful to see your face once again. Let that for the present be enough. And let Isabella again write a word, simply to tell us how you are,—if we might hope that you are got pretty well about again now? At all events let her tell us what the fact is; for I daresay our anxieties are apt to aggravate rather than diminish.— I have lost your Examiner out of my pocket after carrying it many miles; I send you another Newspaper, the bad-best attainable here, instead. Jamie's Herald1 did not reach me till this morning.— I am going to ride, if the rain will permit; but I doubt! Jane's love to you all; and mine always. Your affectionate

T. Carlyle

Address is: W. E. Forster Esq Rawden, near / Leeds