Letter to Joanna 1808


Milheugh House

1799 Sketch Milheugh House by Nattes

On August 23rd 1808, Miss Mary Berry an English aristocrat with a flair for writing, wrote from her visit to Bothwell Castle House, to her friend and fellow writer, Joanna Baillie. Joanna was born at the Manse in Bothwell but at the time of the following letter in 1808, was living in England. Mary took great delight in her visit to Bothwell and Blantyre areas.

Mary, far from home wrote to her friend, “Joanna -You and I have crossed over and figured in, in an odd way this last year. I wish there had been any setting and footing together in the course of our jigging about. I now in Scotland and you in England, I yesterday at Millheugh and you perhaps at Little Strawberry Hill.

What a pretty place Millheugh is! I walked all down the rocky bed of the river below the bridge and crossed over the steeping stones and back again, merely for the pleasure of doing it and then went all round the house at Millheugh and to the wooden bridge which looks at the little cascade then up the green walk at the side of the stream. We saw not a human creature either to welcome us or forbid us their premises, which being all open, we committed no trespass. I tried the echoes with some lines of Basil; but they were dumb and only muttered in return for your name, something about Muslin at Glasgow, a pattern of a handkerchief,  and some stories of the poor in the village. Your heroic muse should have taught them better in such a romantic spot. I have been over too at my own dear little ravine at Blantyre Priory.”

Mary’s letter is telling in that Millheugh does not appear to be fenced off in that area, was still then being described with two “Ls”, the falls described as a little cascade (lending weight that they may later have been made made into something more impressive as they are today).

The sketch attached was drawn in 1799 by Jean Claude Nattes, and is shared here courtesy of Alex Rochaead.  With thanks also to Jack Daniels (yes the real one!) for providing me with the source of this article.

From Blantyre Explained by Paul Veverka (c) 2016

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