April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 25 October 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18441025-TC-JAC-01; CL 18: 247-249


Chelsea, Friday Afternoon 2—th [25] Octr, 1844—

Dear Brother,

I have had your two Notes, and have since written a line to poor Mary,1 whom I hope you will soon bring round again. I suppose it to be hard work and exposure to bad weather that have hurt her, poor thing. Hard work is a harsh thing;—but no work at all, as I have heard you remark, is far worse!

I meant to have answered you two days ago; but literally could not manage it, so indifferently were my schemes laid! We have had, and have, deluges of wet weather and mud here, so that my exercise hours are often interrupted, and other irregularities brought in upon me. Today I take time by the forelock.

If Jamie can get Dalton Hook, I shall deem it a very nice thing. Carruthers I have heard described as a man of superior worth;2 that is of itself a great point. If you can help Jamie at all, of course you will. So of course I. Tell him to gather his judgement together, and make a manful offer at the thing: as much as he dare fairly undertake to perform, not more. We might then engage to be surety for his rent for the first year or two,—or the like,—perhaps with advantage? Whatever Jamie does deliberately decide upon, I shall think it safe and right to back him out in that.

Jane, in spite of the wet weather, has recovered her suppleness of neck; but of course the damp imprisonment is not very genial for her: however, she holds on wonderfully. A mass of old clothes, bits of Carpet &c is now actually laid out upon the floor: and will leave this place for Scotsbrig about Monday at noon: in a week more or so, I suppose it may arrive. So much for that.

On the other hand I am to say that our meal is done to a fortnight's stock or thereby: so that Jamie can instantly bestir himself! We want him also to buy us, at Dumfries or Annan, a small griddle (called “girdle”) for baking a crum of oatcake! The diameter of it is to be fifteen inches; more will be superfluous, less not enough. There must also be a bow (or “bool”) of iron for it with a swivel atop, such as the smiths commonly make for griddles;—but it must not be riveted on: leave it loose for the convenience of packing; we can easily get it riveted here. You understand now about the griddle!— For the rest, Jane thinks as our last-years stock of meal has just held out and no more, and cakes are now a thing in prospect, two additional stone of meal (or one and a half) would not be amiss. This, I think, was my whole commission. Isabella knows about the Butter. The sooner all these things come, we shall be the merrier.— Enough of them.

I have actually engaged a “Secretary” since I wrote to you; and have him writing at this moment at the Museum. He is an Aberdeen Scotchman “Dr Christie” graduate in Medicine; one of the ugliest young men of his day, but full of sense, willingness, energy,—and hunger, poor fellow.3 He squints, has dog-jaws; yet a look full of good- humour: he works like a lion,—six hours daily for £1 a week; and is overjoyed to have that employment!4 I anticipate getting considerable good of him. He is not quite so dear weekly as a horse!—Poor Christie, swindlers-took him in here, he says; he has got a wife too & perhaps bairns, and like the piper with his cow, “has nocht to giver her!”5

I have written two of Oliver's Speeches; made them all luminous to my own eyes, and am now upon a third. By one means or other I must be thro' this horrible imbroglio of Cromwell, and will!— Craik has lost his Professorship; one Piper has got it.6 Darwin is about shifting,—to some small street near Stanhope Gate, I think; he is lame at present from an accident to his toe-nail.— Paper and time are both done, dear Brother! Affectionate regards to all!