January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 18 April 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420418-TC-JWC-01; CL 14: 151-153


Scotsbrig, 18 April, 1842—

My dear Wife,—Tho' I have no history here, and happily for the present can have none, I will still write you a line, were it about nothing. This morning I had given up your Letter: Alick was to have a boy here with it, if there were a Letter, before nine o'clock; he himself brought it (with a bit of mutton he had purchased for me!) about eleven; and before that, I had gone into the fields, and at my return he was gone, and it lay there One of the least punctual of all men!— The Stimabile had not franked the Letter, as he might have done; but it was right welcome, and the more so as arriving now beyond hope.

Jeannie's dream is very correct; I would certainly pack you both out of doors, unless the weather be much sharper than we have it here. But you are getting better, I can see, for all that. Go on that way, my Dearest; there is nothing in the world that will please me so well.

Poor wearisome Grahame, the only articulate man I have spoken with since my arrival here, reported that all went fast towards despondency or sheer despair about Glasgow (except his own daily dinners, which he almost bored me to death with): people withdrawing “from houses into flats”; putting down carriages,—not wotting what to do: Paisley streets alive only with soup-kitchen pensioners travelling with their hafpenny and cann: all things looking bodeful, big with misery to great masses of men. He spoke, most gratefully towards you, about his little print;1 spoke about his own Mother, &c: an affectionate, good, tho' now most wearisome man. He bargained for a day at Burnswark; but that I shall take care to avoid. My authentic Donothingism here is far preferable to any entertainment the choicest Master of Ceremonies could contrive for me. I have today strolled over the moor, watched Jamie and his boy burning of weed-heaps; I have also sorted my Mother's Books into really handsome order (the very book-shelves were down, and difficult to fix): I have likewise smoked three good pipes, read about a half of Chartism (a work quite new to me!); and dined upon 3 ounces of the fore quarter of a hen and soup. My sick nerves will get sound again. That is my way of life.

Jamie Austin is probably about this hour coming down near Auldgarth Bridge, with two light cartloads of lumber, purchased (or left unpurchaseable, owing to a blackguard who had no money, and yet bought, and so had to give them up) from the ruins of poor Templand. He will be here tomorrow,—with at least my Trunk: if with no other satisfaction to me. The Cow comes either to Scotsbrig or to Gill; Alick is not to keep her, having already a cow. Two sugar-loaves (did I tell you?) with a heap of chocolate were left for Robt M'Queen with Margaret, the wine needed no giving away; they had drank five bottles during the Sale, and left only two which I brought hither. All the porter too was drunk then (not quite a dozen of it), two gallons of ale, a gallon and half of whisky—Pfui! I left Robt to take charge of all that; which he did: nay I fancy it would take care of itself. Under the sun is no horribler thing than a “Public Roup” under those circumstances. Thou there, my Dear? I would not for all the furniture in Scotland have had thee there.

I am glad to think the old red chairs are coming: they will even please my taste better than any chairs, in that old drawingroom of ours. Thou shalt buy a right sofa or ottoman,—long enough for me to lie on, at any rate. I mean also to have poor Grandfather's2 old desk appropriated to my own use; to keep my business papers in (as well as my shirts): I really need such a thing. It strikes me also that we must have a window broken out in that dressingroom of mine; that I must sit there and write in the fireless season. Speak about it (to Perry3 this must be, I suppose), if there is opportunity. I wish I had given away the old blue hangings of the dining room: they many an evening gave me mournful and yet soft thoughts; they were evidently all by her. Nay some one has got them all but given,—and I am not troubled with any claim of “gratitude” &c for giving them: it has gone so, even by “Public Roup.” It is better that a human being, even a rude unthankful one, should get use of our good Mother's things, now that she needs them no more, than that Fire should burn them! Let us be pacified.

I think if “the Duke” hang back too long, I will perhaps run for Thomas Erskine's? Yet that will not do well either; for I should have to return.——— Tomorrow is equivalent to your Sunday,—or rather tomorrow morning is; but at night I may have a Letter. Adieu Dearest: love me either for genius or what thou wilt, but love me!— T.C.

Poor Scotsbrig primroses; tussilago4 that grows on desart sandbeds, and yet is wholesome!