July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 29 August 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470829-TC-MAC-01; CL 22: 45-47


Rawdon, 29 Augt, 1847—

My dear Mother,

Yesterday I sent a Newspaper, which would indicate to you that we are still here and well. Jenny's Letter came duly, with the welcome tidings, which we hope still holds good, that you were in your usual way again. We are very silent here; in a green wholesome country, among good friendly people who seem to enjoy our stay: we must not now linger very long; but are, were it only from natural laziness, somewhat averse to pack and take the road again!

This morning there came a Letter from Alick; conveying to us good news of their health, harvest &c; rather short; and enclosing this Note to yourself from little Jane. The Letter I have sent on to Jack, with charge to transmit it to you directly. You will most likely get it in the space of another day. The Note from Jane I forward at once. There comes also a Newspaper, which I got this morning from Jack, with a little Note, charging me to tell you that he is well &c,—as if he had not a pen of his own to tell that! He is very busy with his Printers, I suppose; but has a fair chance at them now in empty London.— You would perhaps notice the frightful Steamboat explosion in the Thames: it is long now that I have been looking for some such thing; and I have accordingly avoided, for most part, getting into any of the River Steamers at all for a good while past. I believe this is not the last of the accidents we shall hear of in that kind of craft. The “Half-penny Steamers” bragged that they were “paying” much better than any of the others: but it has proved a dear feat for them in the end! The common “Twopennies” too seem to me very dangerous; and I keep on land rather. You would read about that frightful murder in Paris?1 It excels in atrocity and infernal quality all that we have heard of for a long while. France, especiall[y] in the upper classes of it, is said by everybody to be in a shocking state of unprincipled depravity; and new commotions are expected in it very confidently when once Louis Philippe2 has ended his cunning work in this world. The Lady was in London some years ago, when her Father was Ambassador, and many persons knew her there.—

We have been very quiet and quite stationary here; except that last week I rode away some 20 miles to see a Mr Milnes (with whom you remember I once made a visit, several years ago, in these parts): Milnes met me on the road (Jane would not go with me, preferring repose); I had a pleasant afternoon and night among the Milnes people; came home next day; and then next, Milnes came up hither, and staid all night with us:—it would have been extremely pleasant, and indeed was so; only I lost a good deal of sleep, and got, as I usually do in such cases, a decided indigestion, with headache &c by the job! “Quietness is best,”—decidedly it is.

Forster was called away yesterday into Lancashire, and is not to [be]3 back till dinner-time tomorrow: we are, in a curious way, masters of a House here till he return.4 I went out yesterday, as I do almost every day, and had a long ride. The country is all broken into Hills, like Scotch Country; only here abouts there are more hills than almost anywhere in the lowlands of Scotland, and no Mountains or very big Hills at all; and furthermore the Hills are ploughed for most part over the very top, and well worth ploughing; and lastly all the villages seem to stand high up in the Country, the bottom of the valley is mere gentlemen's Parks or common meadows, and has very often not even a road in it! We sit here far higher than on the Clint Hill,5 and see little, all round us, but hills on hills irregularly heaped together, but all fringed with rich wood, and beautifully green and yellow (just at present), evidently good land, and a capital wheat or oat crop getting carried off them. Within every mile or half-mile, moreover, there is visible on some hillside or hilltop a huge black-smoking chimney, and a clachan, or village of spinners, planted round it; very ugly steep rude stone-villages, when you get into them: and Leeds and Bradford, visible by their smoke-clouds behind the high ground, are their capitals; Leeds for broadcloths, Bradford for worsteds, as I understand. I have been in both places; only once in Bradford hitherto, but once, unless one have business, is often enough. The country, on account of its spinning and fertility, is very populous; people good-humoured, but rude; a rough and ready people: country full of roads; many of which (owing to the sites of villages, above alluded to) are very steep, and rather inconvenient for riding.— The weather for harvest is excellent, and all hands are busy; but yet not hands enough, for the whole country seems ripe at once, and there is still a good deal of stuff to carry, and even a considerable proportion to cut. Today we have a kind of threatening to rain; last week (Saturday and Sabbath), when you had your storm as it appears, we had a violent wind, droughty and nothing more.— This is enough for our Yorkshire affairs and harvest: I wish I knew as well how the Scotsbrig is coming on! But I shall know before long, I hope, with my own eyes.

“What day wilt thou come, then?” that is the question! Dear Mother, I do not yet know; but it will not be long,—and, in fact, if I could get smuggled away, and carried off in my sleep, I believe I should vote for its being very soon; this night perhaps! Jane, as I said, decides to turn South again, when I go off: this also rather detains me, for she seems to get on well here, and to have improved considerably since we left home. Forster, I clearly perceive, enjoys our presence here; having a “big house,” and nothing to put in it when we are away. In a short time you shall hear of me again.

And so take care of yourself, dear Mother; and don't be unwell when I come!— I have taken to eating potatoes again; some of them are rather good here, and it seems the rot is mostly off: be it so; I like it better so! Remember us affectionately to one and all. Adieu dear Mother. Ever your Son