April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 3 September 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480903-TC-MAC-01; CL 23: 102-104


The Grange, 3 Septr, 1848—

My dear Mother,

According to engagement I send you a word, to announce our safe arrival here, and salute you all at Scotsbrig from our new quarters. I did intend to write yesterday; but found there was no post on Saturday: we are a day behind London,—a day farther off you than London is;—so till now there was no possibility of writing.

We made a slight mistake, owing to a change in the Railway Station, on Friday morning; and had in consequence to go a little farther down the river, and wait an hour or more for a new train: (Jack will understand the business well enough): but the weather was fine, and the next train did take us beautifully along, and what was still less to be expected, the judicious Coachman (fancying how it might be) was still in waiting for us at this end of our steam-route,—all turned out perfectly well, and there was as good as no mistake whatever. They quizzed me a little here, for not knowing what was so public &c &c; but that was all the damage. Everybody seemed glad to see us here, especially our Host and Hostess; they have put us into excellent quiet rooms; the weather has been bright as diamonds ever since we quitted Chelsea; and the Country itself, and the House and Park are looking their very best: so that hitherto all goes as well as it could do. I have got tobacco in abundance, and even pipes,—and a cunning place to keep them in out of doors! One thing we cannot much expect here, and that is very valuable,—quiet! But I mean to study all I can the ways of the place, and try to secure my forenoons (till 2 o'clock) rigorously to myself, and to some kind of useful reading; after that, I shall be at the service of the public;—if I can manage so, it will do. The first night, in spite of the absolute silence, and my temperance at dinner, I did not sleep: it was a strange thing to lie thinking of you all in the deep night here, and have Scotsbrig and the ever dear ones there all present in a place so foreign to them! Last night, however, I made a fair sleep, and indeed today feel wonderfully well. I look out of my two big windows here (which are generally flung up) northwards into deep masses of wood with avenues and green-sward (the principal entrance thro' the Park) all in beautiful sunshine and solitude, and silent except for the twittering of some birds, and occasionally the caw of some distant rooks, not yet quite fallen dumb: I could sit whole hours, if they would let me alone, and converse only with my own confused thoughts, and try to let them settle a little within me. That is very wholesome for a man, I think; but most probably they will not let me have too much of that.— — Jane at this moment has gone out to saunter a little in the noon sunshine and shade: she professes to be “wonderfully strong,” “slept well,” &c; and indeed really takes with her quarters hitherto.

Charles Buller is here; a very cheerful man to have beside one. The Lady's Mother (the widow Lady Sandwich) is the only woman visitor except Jane. Lady Sandwich used to live always in Paris, till she was driven hence by the late Revolutions: a brisk talking, friendly and rather entertaining character,—has been very beautiful at one time; she has no other daughter left but this, and no Son but one:1 plenty of money, and fair health &c, but alas, nothing to do,—that is not a very easy life after all! For the present too we have a store of other Lords (Lansdown, Auckland, Granville, whom Jack knows about),2 with one or two official commoners: but these, I am happy to say, are to go tomorrow; and we shall look for somewhat perceptibly quieter times, I hope,—till more come! Alas, as Stephenson the Engineer said,3 and I often say,—if it were not for the clothes, there would be little difference!— We breakfast at half past nine; dine at half past seven: these, I imagine, will have to be my only two repasts while here. To say truth, I wish we were well home again, after all. And yet I suppose it is useful to come abroad into such foreign circles now and then: persons so very kind to us are not lightly to be refused.

The harvest has been dreadfully smashed here, and a great deal of it is still out, much still uncut: the wheat, standing in little stooks of three sheaves without hood, looks brown as steeped lint; some barley fields you could hardly notice to be anything but clover (the heads all broken and bent down), and one mown field of barley we had a dispute about, whether it was mown barley or mown stubble, till Lord A. yesterday dismounted, examined, and settled the question in the affirmative of barley! There will be an immense loss of crops here: the potatoes reckoned mostly to be gone, and the harvest weather the worst anybody remembers.

Dear Mother, I am clattering at a great rate: but you perceive the only thing I mean is, that we are well here,—and that we want to hear from you at Scotsbrig. Ask the Doctor to take pen in hand immediately. Let him tell me (if he can still!) that you and the rest are pretty well; we will let him off for that; but we want to hear all manner of other news about you,—how the harvest, and Jamie's especially, gets on, what every one of you is doing; and specially what Jack's own news are,4—and that he has resumed his efforts for the poor Ecclefechan Station, and decided not to despair.— You will get the Examiner, I think, tomorrow; that is, the day after you get this.

And now enough, dear Mother. Take care of yourself; let them all take care of you!—

Ever your affectionate son /

T. Carlyle