The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO LADY AIRLIE ; 12 August 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520812-TC-LAI-01; CL 27: 218-219


Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan / 12 Augt, 1852—

Dear Lady Airlie,

Your kind little Note finds me here, on my next shift southward. I did leave Linlathen that Friday; and, by gentle stages, am now in my good old Mother's house, amid scenes very strange (once so familiar), very sad, very beautiful, and full of interest to me,—but far away from Co[r]tachy1 Castle, of which there is clearly no hope on my side this year! Instead of the Grampians, I have now the so-called “English Hills” (Skiddaw, Helvellyn and Co) full in sight of me; and my course is towards Chelsea and the south, in a few, I know not how few, days hence. Adieu, therefore, once more. If I have time, and things prove suitable, I shall be strongly tempted to make a call at Alderley in passing, where perhaps I shall hear of you: but that, like so much that is to follow, is very uncertain at present. My Wife is full of building operations, and surrounded with dust and noise and architectural and upholstery improvements, in Cheyne Row; there is considerable talk of our escaping to Germany, for six weeks, out of all that; but the speculation has not yet quite advanced to certainty, tho' it must now, either one way or the other, very soon.

My Wife, writing yesterday, reports indirectly (thro' Milnes, I think) that Ld and Lady Ashburton have gone to Switzerland instead of Bad Gastein as once intended; and that his Lordship has quite recovered health, and is now “running up hills” &c. They are to return early in September. Mrs Milnes, as you doubtless know, has given Mr. and the world a little Daughter; who, we hope, will one day be the joy and sorrow of some worthy person's son that was born lately into these latitudes: poor little souls, they also have to take their destiny here below when their time comes! Jane added a rumour of two robberies: robbery first, the pocket of Thackeray picked of a £100 Note in foreign parts (may it burn the thief's fingers!)2—robbery second, Mrs Ruskin's jewels (pretty Mrs Ruskin, one of the daintiest Scotchwomen married to a Prince “of Criticism,” and I doubt not valuable jewels, for they are rich and she is bright and gay) all stolen, in Italy, by some English-Austrian spy and swindler; and, what makes it worse, the Newspaper narrative of the affair, is headed “Stones of Venice,” which is the title of her husband's last Book.3 How mischievous are mankind one to another, with object and without! On the other hand, your little sculptor of genius, who was to have done Ld Airlie and didn't, is off to the Diggings in Australia;4 intending to make a competence of money first, in that way: to such a fate you may, if so disposed, justly give a sympathetic tear.

Another tear, of sympathy and other emotion and consideration, I hope your bright young eyes retain, or are even now shedding, for the tragic multitude of partridge victims that will fall by shot this day,—the voice of which, I doubt not, resounds round Cortachy as other places in her majesty's dominions! May it end; may the last of all terrestrial partridges be shot, before long!— Adieu dear young Lady

Yours ever truly—

T. Carlyle