January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 23 March 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420323-TC-JWC-01; CL 14: 82-84


Templand, Wednesday Evg, 23 March, 1842

My dear Wife,

Your packet, and good long Letter, arrived this morning; poor Mary by a violent exertion of speed made shift to have it here a little after ten o'clock: half past eight is their time of opening the post-office; she is most slow but most assiduous. There came a very short Note from John, accusing me of shortness. You must not get impatient with him: his own life and affairs grow all in such a whirling drift-mould, ever-shifting like desert sand, that whatsoever of good is in him, and of sympathy with one's affliction most of all, shews itself more imperfectly than in almost any other man. I have answered Chadwick's1 Letter; I will write to Mrs Stanger about poor Calvert's memorial.2 Did I not tell you that I had written to Cavaignac about ten days ago? Ask Mazzini farther about his illness: if that report confirm itself, I must write again.

Today the younger Jardine called upon me; another man from Shaws, an emeritus Farmer named Irving, had called an hour before, also about the House; whom I had dismissed with a denial as to this place, and with a reference to Craigenputtoch if he were out of houses. Jardine's demeanour was that of a solid young man, who had minutely computed all his own purchase-money but had left out of view entirely the values of his ware: I explained to him, not without sharpness, that I meant this offer to him as a favour, and even as a considerable favour; and that if he could not accept it as such there was no farther negociation needed between us. Whereupon he fell away; acceded to everything; was to come again on friday evening, after I had got Moffat's word, and be prepared with his finale. The poor people here have such a talent for spinning out business, and transact everything not with the fewest possible words but with the most possible. Their greediness is great; to their experienced caution plaindealing has an air that they suspect. On the whole perhaps Moffat would be the better man. But we shall see on friday; and meanwhile I need not trouble you with that. I dismissed poor Jardine with a glass of whisky, and some regret perhaps on both sides that he [had]3 shown himself of such a wide recipience. Poor man!— I had already three or four other Letters about Craigenputtoch &c; afterwards I walked across to Closeburn Hall,4 to pay my call there;—not at home. Dinner, a bit of mutton boiled, was ready at my return; and now I am writing to you. That is hitherto the history of my day. A messenger (Jardine, accidentally) is over at Thornhill even now, and there may still be a letter from your Uncle. I may perhaps call on the Russels this evening, if I walk over with this myself: I have seen none of them for a week. I sent the Newspaper over to poor old Mr Dobie (a very good old man),5 with my compliments, this morning. I will attend to the work-table and fire-screens. Mr Russel well deserves our gratitude, so far as I can find; the thought that in difficulties there was one honest kind friend here is consolatory.

The little black book-case in this room shall be well taken care of. The carpets can easily come; the stair-carpets too, tho' they are now much broken the drawingroom chairs and sofa—we will try to do our best in. Shall I bring all the blankets, sheets &c? If you can learn by Helen's List which I sent yesterday, pray instruct me by and by. We can take a little time. The truth is I am not yet at all familiar with the contents of the house,—and have to believe, what there is indeed no doubt of that poor Margaret is perfectly honest; yet gradually I am getting acquainted, will make myself acquainted.

Helen spoke about some Miss Gillespie6 at Moffat, who might have some small Book given her. Would you have it so? She also repeatedly suggested the question Whether Mrs M'vey7 ought not to have perhaps the picture of the Cottar's Saturday Night which hangs over the drawing-room mantel-piece?8 It will not be done unless you expressly order it. I mean to call there, but only once shortly before my departure. I met Creighton9 today, and bowed to him but in his carriage he did not seem to know me.

The Day has been pale-bright, serene,—a sort of Sabbath to me, once my wrangling and letter-writing was done. The Closeburn trees were all loud with rooks; the cattle seemed happy; the unfathomable azure resting beautiful above us all. One asks is man alone born to sorrow that has neither healing nor blessedness in it? All Nature from all corners of it answers, No,—for all the wise No; only Yea for the unwise, who have man's susceptivities, appetites, capabilities, and not the insights and rugged virtues of men.

The sun is down; twilight itself, coming thro' this poor North window which you know so well, begins to fail me. I must end.

One of my little works today was to copy this other essay of an inscription,10 of which your Uncle also has a copy. Return it with what criticisms you have. A man waits to do it so soon as we have fixed. Or would you rather not criticize it at all, but leave it to my responsibility? Write to me, at any rate; write to me a little, it will do you good: never mind how brief, how hasty.

Will you bid John pay the Hatter in the King's Road11 for my new hat? It will be perhaps a guinea; perhaps a shilling or two more; it wants a slight alteration. Or perhaps it were better if some of you asked for his bill, and signified that he would be paid, at my return.

The little table here I have already, at Mrs Martin's suggestion, offered to your Uncle by letter: I offered him by word of mouth the poor old desk12 which was his Father's, but he not unreasonably as I thought declined it.

Adieu, my dear little Wife. Go out into the air when the sun shines; get a drive, Jeannie and you,—and be good to one another. My Love to Cousin Jeannie. Good night, Dearest.

Your affectionate /

T. C.

I have begun on the wrong side of the paper