April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 3 September 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490903-TC-JAC-01; CL 24: 216-218


Glen Truine House, 3 Septr 1849—

My dear Brother,

The day before yesterday you got a hurried fragment of a Letter, the Post interrupting me; and now today, in a few words, I will send you the sequel.— I got no dinner that day till past 8; and as a consequence, had next to no sleep that night; whereby, when the light broke yesterday morning, my prospects were none of the brightest! I had in fact a very sickly, solitary and dispirited day; and wrote to Jane a very lugubrious Letter; but happily being left almost the whole day alone, I picked up some sleep in my own cell here in spite of noises; and by judicious management generally, I got a good sleep last night; so that today, the weather also being bright and beautiful, and my company having all gone into the Hills, I feel very much recovered; and have no doubt I shall do well now. I have had a considerable solitary ride (one of the worst of garrons [nags] in appearance, but sure-footed, willing, and steady at the jogtrot); I have had a quiet smoke in the garden since, and also again a bit of sleep; I am to have my dinner at five instead of eight: and so, in general, I hope to have a better time for the future here. But on the whole it seems to me, a gliff [glimpse] of the place will do; and so soon as I can fairly reckon my visit accomplished, and take myself to the Southward again, it will be the best course for me.

This “House” is a new grey granite one, with turrets and gimcracks; but it is by no means useful in proportion to its promise: add to which it is crowded to the ridge-tile, nearly thrice as many people as are good for it; and the accommodation, even for favoured guests like myself, is by no means very exquisite! My little Cell, where I now am, will scarcely hold my trunks and me; of drawers, bath &c there is no vestige; and one sometimes does not get hot water “because there are not jugs enough, Sir!” However, some are going tomorrow (good speed to them!); and before the end of the week, only Milnes and a Nephew (of Lord A's)1 will be here: good fellows both, with whom it will be easier to live a little! My next neighbour, “Lord Canning” (son of Canning), even snores a little on occasion: how his Wife stands it I cannot say; but the quality is not recommendable here. He and his are to go “about Friday”; another peer and peeress, a Lord Sidney, a fat dull haughty-looking, but on the whole, honest and well conditioned man, whose Wife is a Paget, pale, beautiful, and high-bred, but without great wit of any kind:2 they are to go in a few days more; and Milnes does not come till Friday. The departure of the Peer of the realm makes an immensity of room: so many flunkies Lady's-maids &c are in his train.— The place, for the rest, is overflowed with “Gillies” so-called; a raw-boned set of hallanshakers [ragged fellows], who assist in hunting, every one of whom leads a ragged garron (like the one I have just been on), a work-horse in peat or ploughing time, but equal to carrying a Lordship on the moors when game-time arrives,—the wages are 5/ a day for gillie and garron united. On the whole, it is a wondrous-looking life; and the thought that anybody should leave a rural palace in the South, and pay £500 or £1000 for two months of an adventure like this,—might justly fill one with astonishment! But “changes are lightsome”; weary are the lives of rich men that require such a change.— Our Ladies “sketch” sitting on blocks of granite, and looking out for “effects” upon the distant mountains. Today they are all off on a visit to the westward, a place called Laggan, where certain Marquises and the like are settled: nothing but Miss Emily Baring, a solitary sketcher down below, and I here on the second-floor back, are left about these premises just now. I have got Lyell's Book on America; and there are three or more Newspapers daily, which however seem to contain almost nothing but the “Bermondsey Murder,”3—very poor stuff for the human mind to diet upon. This will do for a description of my posture here; you have only to fancy the country an open upland moor, of hilly surface, intersected by the Spey and Truine (a bigger Water-of-Milk each), which join here, Spey from the West, Truin from the South—a scene not unlike a mixture of Craigenputtoch and the Crook Inn: no great shakes of a scene!—but with the air bright and pure; mountains, sunny or shady, from five to ten difft courses or sets of them, rising in the distance, and only one high one, “Craig Dhu,” close at hand: add scullions, gillies (as above), French cook, flunkies, soubrettes, gun-cases and pointer-dogs: you will find it a sufficiently impressive scene of human wisdom, and conceive that a slightish dose of it may be expected to suffice for me!—

Jane, as I compute, is at this hour in Edinburgh, and may be setting out for Haddington: I have heard nothing but expect a word the day after tomorrow. Our Letters from this quarter, get to Perth in the morning about 6; and so are two days, I suppose, on the road to you.— Tell me how my Mother is; and tell her I have a right good purpose to call again at Scotsbrig as I pass,—which need surprise no one, I think! There is some kind of scheme also to take Stirling up at Keir for a day; but that is very uncertain. No harvest here yet; all in the thick of it about Perth, you may tell Jamie, and the crops looking well,—all but the potatoes, which are everywhere partially rotted. My love to every one; and so adieu, dear Brother. Ever your affectionate T. Carlyle