The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 26 August 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410826-TC-JAC-01; CL 13: 221-223


Scotsbrig, 26 August, 1841—

Dear Brother,

Today I write to you by our Mother's request, as well as by motion of my own; she has had your Letter for some days, and is altogether restless at not being able to fill the cover you sent her. Literally it has not been well in her power. I was to make innumberable apologies. Our poor good Mother! She is lying in bed today, really very sick,—a temporary fit of biliousness, I think, brought on by the many confusions she has been living in of late. The little dose of medicine that she has taken will soon bring her round again, we hope.

On my arrival here last night I found that Jenny had gone back to her Luckless of a Husband; such had been the conclusion she arrived at. The Blockhead has never yet rightly quitted his house at Kirtlebrig, where I suppose all manner of confusion and peril still reigns for him; no outlook but that of hard daily labour or starvation; which alternative is indeed the only wholesome one for the like of him. I got it made plain to Jenny that if she chose to stay with her children and take care of our Mother, you and I would consider that she was working for us, and allow her annually £10 apiece, which, with my Mother's income, might in some quiet cottage with cow-park and etceteras, make up a sufficient income for them both, and an eligible kind of life for her. I had, before that, explained that so long as she continued with such a man as hers had proved to be, no aid or countenance could be afforded to him or her. She made her choice, as above, the day before yesterday: who shall say, poor thing, that she did wrong? Jamie tells me that my Mother and she were like to be quite miserable together; that he himself considered it to be the elegiblest course, the one Jenny took, in the mood she was in. We all lament the sharp suffering of my Mother, which nobody can save her from: but expect that a little time, aided by keeping her as much as possible out of all sound of that sorry business, will compose her again. Poor body, she was miserably sick, taken all of a sudden, this forenoon; she is very weak, even at the healthiest:—already now however while I write (4 O'clock) she has taken some vestige of dinner, and is greatly better again.

We left on Monday, as computed; got up to Templand, in pleasant weather, an exception out of deluges and tempests. Three Welshes, Walter, Alick, Margaret were there: I passed two days, well enough, in “total silence,” or the approach to such,— poor Jane lying sick. On the latter of these days Archy Glen came; on his way to see Wm at Carstammon: Peter wants more money for W.;1 I advised Archy not to give it. A shrewd, active, rather humorous, clever kind of man, this Archy. Except David Hope,2 who came down to us on the Sunday evening while Alick and Jenny were there, I have seen no other stranger at all, had no other adventure at all.

Jean at Dumfries was suffering much as I passed yesterday: what they call a beelin' [festering] breast was her ailment; and she knew not what Surgeon to consult, with any chance of getting a rational advice about it. There seemed a chance too that the suppuration was complete; that perhaps a prick of the lancet might now put an end to it. I urged her to go and consult somebody. She was looking wretchedly thin, poor Jean; otherwise her Goodman and she appear to be doing altogether well. Alick, last night, was with Jamie at Carlisle Fair, as I passed thro': they came home about 9 O'clock, that is, Jamie arrived here then. Jamie Austin was here this morning about sheep. There is a bulletin from all sides of the Kindred!

As for me, I am off to Speddingdom on Monday morning, to continue in that quarter for a week. Jane will remain with her Mother till I come back. Jamie takes me down in the gig to Carlisle; at 2 o'clock a Coach sets off thence for Keswick, arrives about 8½. I will take all your cigars with me, for one item! Let me have a Letter from you thither; thereupon I will answer. The address is Greta Bank, Keswick (T. Spedding Esq). I have two other persons to see, and shall make out my week among them better or worse.

Poor James Fraser, we shall likely never see him more. I was truly sorry to read that Note from his Brother last night, in answer to a word of inquiry I had sent.3 Ah me!—

Your Spectator was lying for my Mother; I brought it over in my pocket. One came to myself the week before: a dull crabbed Paper, wort[h] reading now and then.

—Along with David Hope that evening, Wull Carruthers came in, or indeed it was to seek David that he came: one of the notablest Orsons!—

Adieu dear Brother. Write to Keswick and be well.

Yours ever affectionately /

T. Carlyle