January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 24 March 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420324-TC-JAC-01; CL 14: 85-87


Templand, 24 March, 1842—

My dear Brother,

Your briefest of Notes arrived yesterday, for some time expected. It is Pot accusing Kettle when you complain of my “shortness”;1 is it not? Rowland Hill, I think, serves at present no briefer man!

The truth is, I have endless things to do, and to consider of doing, here; and till the last two days, have never been left an hour alone. I am also far out of health; in a very inflammatory bilious state; tho' the country, I suppose, will gradually recover me again. I hurt my left arm too, climbing out of Scotsbrig Linn [ravine], the branch my foot was on suddenly giving way.

All was pretty well at Scotsbrig; our good Mother only complaining of sore eyes, and of the remains of some biliary attack, which indeed I imagine was the origin of the former complaint. She talked of coming up hither; but, I doubt, the solitude will not suit her well. She charged me to say, with her blessings to you, that she could not afford to go without Letters from you, but should be obliged for even a short one. Pray write to her; it is one of her chief comforts; I have written at some length this very morning.

Jamie on Saturday brought me up by the Gill. The Austins are diligent and prospering well; poor Jenny has trimmed up her melancholy establishment in the end of their house in an almost pathetic way. She would like to stay there another year; but is at present by no means on the right footing with the Austins,—who wish her there; and yet do not wish her, as is very natural; and talk accordingly. I employed her and Jamie to ascertain with distinctness, whether they would acept some rent from her for their two little rooms; otherwise she would have to leave them. It had been almost settled that she was to go to one of the houses at Ecclefechan;2 but this, except as it brought her near our Mother, had great objections in her eyes, and in mine and Jean's. Failing Austindom, however, I conjecture it will be her lot. I encouraged her to try some little shop or the like; she looked glad; but appeared still to have her chief hope fixed on Rob, tho' with sad misgivings. One could not but be very sorry for her.— Jean, at Dumfries, and her people were well. Jamie and I arrived here, after various showers and blasts, about nine O'clock.

On Monday, which was windy and bleared [dimly]-bright, we went to Craigenputtoch. I shall never forget that desolate gray expanse of Moor, beshone by the pale March Sun, in its utter loneliness; nor the brutal scene of sloth I found in Corsondom as located in the House that was ours. Dunghills and cattle-paths in front of the house; dung on all hands; rotten paling, not so much as burnt; mildewed paint, blown slates, bushy neglected hedges, rags, dirt, composed putrescent sloth and desolation looked on you from this side and that. Poor Corson, born brother of the Dungheap! I have written since to say that I must turn him out, or reform him,—of which latter what possibility is there? M'Adams grounds looked not so ill, except that his dikes were down, that his cattle had been scandalously preying on the woods; for which fault, and his defences of it, I had to rebuke and even to menace him, the senseless two-legged Stot that he is. Order must be taken about all that: on Wednesday next I go to Dumfries for the purpose.— Glen, whom we saw for some minutes in returning, eagerly inquired your address, which I said you would send him in writing. He seemed vainer if anything, and more insane than ever, hopelessly insane. I gave him the brass tobacco-box, and went my way.

It will I fear be two weeks or three before I get all settled here, and Templand finally off my hands. Jane will apprize you how I get on if you know not otherwise. Pray be good and kind to her, poor woman. She has got a wound which has cut her to the heart. The virtues of her Mother, what her Mother essentially was, are now first visible when the poor earthly obstructed coating of them has become dead earth, and all is ended! Adieu, dear Brother.

Yours ever /