Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XVI
AT THE GRANGE (1848)

THERE is a hint of what Carlyle was thinking of in his working hours in a letter to the Rev. A. Scott, once Irving's assistant. 'Your Parisian connections,' he wrote in August, 'are of a more recent date than mine,' and for that reason he begged Scott to find out for him the truth of what had been in the English newspapers, about the 'national workshops' in Paris. It was said that workmen were being sent from there into the country, and under 'severe military discipline reclaiming waste lands. The principal question,' wrote Carlyle, 'would be, do the ouvriers (workmen) actually earn their franc and half daily, under these conditions, or are they merely paid so much daily, and made very miserable in the process ?'

At the end of August Jeannie Welsh went home, and Carlyle and his wife went on a five-weeks' visit to the Ashburtons at the Grange in Hampshire. Dating from there on 19.9.48,1 Carlyle sent on the best of the reports, which Mr. Scott had been able to get for him, to Thomas Spedding, who had suggested the enquiry.--'Here is a kind of answer concerning the French Task-workers on the Sologne, the best I have yet got. The Enterprise seems much smaller than the Newspapers represented it, and I doubt it will gradually die away, and leave not even an effective reminiscence of itself.'

Describing their visit, Mrs. Carlyle wrote to Mrs. Russell that it 'was anything but a retirement; for in London we should not have seen half so many people,--the house being filled with company the whole time.' Carlyle's report to his mother is more explicit.--

' Charles Bullet 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

____________________
1
Cornhill Magazine, June, 1921. p. 750.

-57-

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