Letters from the past
“ Edward Fraser to James Baillie Fraser Esq., 1826 A 19th century family letter,the Frasers of Reelick, Inverness ”
This letter is one of twentyone we have for the Frasers of Reelick or Reelig, most of them are written to James Baillie Fraser, and this was written by his father Edward Fraser who lived at No 14 Edwards Square, Kensington, London. There is only one postal marking on the letter, the charge mark 4˝d. which indicates the distance of not exceeding 15 miles. It has no date stamp, only the charge mark, which includes the additional halfpenny for the Scottish mail tax. From the contents it seems as though the letter MUST have been written from London. Inverness is 651 miles from London and that cost would have been 1/4d, (one shilling and four pence) which raises these questions:-
There is another question :
The address appears to be James B Fraser Esq, then Yr which may be to represent Younger, of Reelick Inverness
I have put in this illustration, of the whole of the front page, which shows how the letter would have been folded to go through the mail, and that he had written on both ‘ears’ or ‘wings’ of the letter, and this writing would have been invisible once the letter was folded and sealed
The letter is very closely written over 3 full pages and wherever he found a space. It is full of interesting information of events happening locally and internationally, The writing is very legible and is in a really good condition for paper that is almost 200 years old. It begins with an interesting note with the address, about the date.
Because of the length of the letter and the references made to so many events in this letter, I have annotated the letter in paragraphs, and put all the information at the end of the letter.
Nr 14 Edwards Square, Kensington
(this last part of the sentence is perfectly clearly written but seems to make no sense).
Parliament has been prorogued 2 months or more. The general understanding was that on account of the precarious health of the King & Duke the Prorogations would only be from month to month. We suppose now that the King is in present safe health, but the Duke is considered to be in a serious state. Hydrothorax and ossification of the heart have been both mentioned, but that there is ASCITES is most authentically current, and at 63, a complication of disease is awful, this matter of deep regret. We learn too that Clarence is in very precarious health.Para 3
Now truly, the country much requires steady & vigilant Government and for some years yet. I hope no change may happen for many years. Both the foreign & domestic Machinery needs able and virtuous Managers. We have here the eternal paradox of idle capital and bad times, Splendor & misery, yet certainly the Stagnation of Credit, & want of market &consumption operate to deadly mischief, shewn in numberless ways. Among the evidence of diminished means for luxury and reasonable expenditure, the falling off of public prints is striking. The circulation of the Newspaper is lessened from 3 to 1. The printers are not employed about 1 in 10 of what were two years ago. Buildings begin to be checked. Builder’s speculations having except in particular cases, fallen into Solicitor’s hands, a whole Square completed nearly for inhabiting in our own neighbourhood has been sold by auction, piece meal. I find a rumour here (I hope not true) that Belladrum (?) is sold for £80,000 to John Stewart. I shall the less regret having quitted the Aird. The dissolution, or even the unhinging of old ties is distressing, and the more so, the older we grow.
By the way, I have adopted one symptom of age lately, with much benefit, Spectacles. I find much comfort and pleasure in the use of them, and in the probable extension of the pleasures and duties of reading and writing.
We have undergone yesterday a most awful, most splendid thunderstorm. I seldom have witnessed any thing near to it – a Gentleman now here, who is just arrived from the Cape after Eighteen years residence there assured me that he never experienced the like I have no authentic evidence of any Mischief done by it. It was accompanied by so little rain, that the Earth here was not refreshed. In some places at some miles off, there were torrents of rain, our thermometer was at 84 before the Lightning began, it is now at 68. Our grapes & peaches are ripe and plenty – and cheap of course – Yet we sleep with open windows and without blankets or quilts.Para 6
Really your mother is in stout health – but abuses it sometimes with scampers to Chelsea, Sloane Street & Grosvenor square, & Russel square. Sometimes takes the Public coach, often not, always walks out or home. I am sometime obliged to be of the party, however I may object to the exertion she makes.
For my own part, I am regular in my ways, ride early, write & read till the Breakfast calls me, then generally return to book or pen or both for two hours. Other times walk till 4 or 5 according to heat or coolness, I vary the times, We took a fancy lately to make a wandering day together, we were set down at the Temple bar, went all over the Temple, then called on Polson at New Lincoln’s Inn Square. Visited Alexr, the Intelligencer’s nieces at Lincolns Inn Fields, walked onto Miss Linwood’s exhibition – then to the operations at Spring gardens and around Charing Cross – thro the Park, to Capt (tongthe’s?) and through Lord Grosvenor’s new operations to Cadogan Place & across the fields home. We had before been a day to Chantry with the McIntoshs a great treat indeed – We had also been another day to Angerstein & the King’s Picture &c. Our next object is the museum privately with the McIntoshs, Sir James & his family seem to expect us – and are of course from connexion happy to receive & visit your mother.
I suppose your Killin Journal is on the way I desired your mother to forbid your sending us any for me, until Frost authorized it – She sent you my idea of our requisitions from the North – If Eggs can be well collected and packed – so as not to be (maesty?). They are a real treat. If they were sent at two collections it were better.Para 9
Among political occurrences, there is one important feature – a Treaty between France and Brazil of a most liberal tenor – We look curiously too for Lord Cochrane’s operations and at this crisis of the Ottoman’s dissolution of the Janissaries, a serious advantage might arise to the Greeks, but if not seized the Turks may rise with renovated strength from that change in her force, and even be enabled to maintain her present hold in Europe, but also may come nearer to the verge of Civilization, and reform even of religion.
Ministers have a great interval for preparation for the ensuing campaign in Parliament – and many new circumstances may meantime occur to govern their operations. It seems to me, that there never was a time so big with the fate of Nations and Monarchs and Britain has her hands full at home, and afield for all her eyes abroad. Whatever be the vaunted superiority or prosperity of Britain, I do believe that there never was a period when the Mass of her population was so miserable. In point of substantial happiness, the poorest quarters of the Empire seem to be in the fairest state – those where artificial wants are fairest, and where manufacture are not. Ireland is an exception perhaps, but not difficult to be accounted for.Para 11
I hope the harvest which has been so admirably got in may prove abundant in flour & meal. There will probably be importations of Barley for Malt, & oats for Horses in England & more in Scotland, but not at a dear rate. I trust that popular commotion will not ferment again. I hear nothing new as to your works – and I see no great good in my visiting your people with enquiries, unless in a very casual way– I heard of some of the Kimala copies selling at Bookseller’s sale – very low.Para 12
Pray tell me, how & by whom, & to whom has the Collectorship of Customs at Inverness been disposed of, Charles Robertson, I imagine, if it lies with Robert Grant, But perhaps it rested with Mr Canning, as the vacancy possibly preceded the dissolution of Parliament, and the new Election – I cannot help having Edward (Gosterley?) too in my view, in case Charles Rob’n was not to have it. Is the Doctor’s son Aleck about to marry and go out to India, as reported here? Possibly to some mercantile situation connected with his Uncle’s house. The winds have had so much Westing of late, that I look for interesting public & private advices – I therefore keep this open till the 30th for which day I have a frank.Para 13
The leaf is falling fast – before the Michaelmas shoot comes for the rain would produce a new spring of verdure & foliage. The fruits are a month forwarder than usual – Grapes and walnuts come in proverbially the 1 Oct – This year the 1 Sepr. Game is strong & numerous beyond all former time
- I dare to say you find the morning and evenings rather cool & autumnal. I have just been paquetting some seeds of fine varieties of what I think neither Jane mine, nor your Jane are deficient in. Heart’s ease. Did our Robertson pippen trees survive or shall I send you some to replace failures. How does your South country Gardner now prove? He ought to be superior, at his wages, for your limited gardening and planting. Did you notice what I said about your Bramah & Baron Locks – and my observations as to planting in poor soils near the house? What are Afflecks brothers doing. I hear that John has lost by his sporting instead of being within hale of his admiral – has Alexr secured his Majority? Remember me affectionately at Culduthel & Moniack & Relig, and kindly to all old friends of all classesHe then adds a final paragraph to close the letter.
You will see by the public prints, that an overland despatch (Via Bombay & Constantinople), brings accounts from Calcutta of 7 April of the termination of the Burmese war, ratifying the former treaty. Sir A. Campbell has proceeded to within four miles of (um merapodra??) He had come to Calcutta but was returning to Rangoon. I own my astonishment and rejoice.
So that is the end of this chatty family letter, and the following notes are just to give information about the subjects mentioned. It is obvious that they are very well informed about the events and must be keeping up with the news in the newspapers like the London newspaper The Times.
Paragraph 1 :
Copyright By EARS Leisurewrite
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