April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 25 September 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480925-TC-JAC-01; CL 23: 119-121


The Grange, 25 Septr, 1848—

My dear Brother,

I take time by the forelock1 this morning, and write you a word before any interruption turn up, of which thro' the day we know not how many sorts will occur. This table of mine is far too low, and makes me ill, sleepy, and stupid beyond measure, when I sit long at it,—I write here in my own bedroom; a spacious apartment, but getting slightly too cold now without a fire; the drawing-rooms have ample writing-apparatus, but also are continually liable to noise:—at this low table let me jot you down a word, under such circumstances as there are. Today we have a most quiet house; our company all gone, except Lady Sandwich, a fine cheery old dame, who never makes her appearance till past noon; the rest, I say, are all gone their several ways, a young Miss Ferrar towards Ryde2 just half an hour ago; and here we are, Jane and I alone visible in this huge establishment, which at this moment is as silent as a Hall of the Past. It will not be long so, I suppose. The poor Lady (Ashburton) has been unwell for nearly a week past: on Wednesday last she and Lord An went, as they had done the week before, up to Town to consult Doctors, a Dr Lococke (or some such name) is her Ladyship's artist,—a considerable quack, I suspect;3 for, it is to be remarked, every time she goes to see him, in search of better health, she returns decidedly ill with the fatigue of the 60 miles journey up and down; and Locock pockets his fee for what he has not done. Last time the poor Lady caught a cold, had to wait a day in Town, came back almost alarmingly worse (being weak in the lungs)—has had the Alresford Doctor attending her ever since; and has not shewn face to any of her guests, except within these two days to the women part of them, for she is now got nearly well again,—not ready, I hope, for another expedition to Locock! Ay de mi! It is a sad chimera of an existence, this that many of us with such effort lead!— There is still no word of our getting home; Jane seems to enjoy her quarters, and I too have got into a little better sleep, and consent to doze along a while longer here. My health even seems to be improving in the main: “the air,” I suppose, must be equal to the best, and the calm green world one lives in whenever out of doors, the profound solitude (such to me it virtually is,—lonely as la Trappe),4 the daily or almost daily ride, &c: these things seem to act favourably in spite of the unwholesome hours and diet. I find it good also to restrict myself to about two glasses of wine; or occasionally none at all, which seems to be still better.— The “Hampshire Yeomanry” are about assembling in Winchester this next Friday and for a week or 10 days after: a Troop of them mustered here one day last week, and went flourishing, cantering, and popping off carbines all day,—dining at night sumptuously in the Captain's (Ld A's) lower premises here. Jane seems to intimate we could not rightly go, and leave the Lads here, till that muster is5 over, and the “Captain” got back to his port again. Well, well!— — At Chelsea we hear there has been painting and papering, which is now about over; and moreover our poor neighbour has been busy with balconies &c “before the house and behind.” Anne, Jane thinks, does not seem to be in much heart or haste about her marriage: but of course it will be necessary to come to some settlement and I expect we shall land in poor Ellen again, who is at least a known quantity.6

You will find your Preface quite capable of being written at Scotsbrig, if you will once fairly try. They will respect your quiet very much, as they did mine long ago. Besides one writes such things mainly (all but the penmanship of them) wandering about anywhere in solitude,—on the Scotsbrig moors more readily than in most places. I think it would be a pity if you quitted our good Mother's side for that. Is Jenny still with you? Give my kind remembrances to her. That “running of the stockings,” done by the old kind hand, is good for me to think of. Thanks for sending the paper to Sandy,—for writing to him: I have no convenience here, but will attend to it if I were once home. Poor Alick, I think of him, in his own purchased “buggy,” far over the sea, with a melancholy pleasure. Give my regards also to Jamie and Isabella,—my heart's blessing to one and all.

Scott wrote to me about his candidateship: I sent him an elaborate “Testimony” the other day,—the stupidest day I can remember to have had these many years: What chance he has I cannot guess; but hope it may be good. I wrote a word to Jean yesterday; the Canada Letter I forwarded to Mary at Gill.

Adieu dear Brother. Yours ever

T. C.