The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 18 February 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520218-TC-AC-01; CL 27: 47-49


Chelsea, London, 18 feby, 1852—

My dear Brother,

We heard of you lately thro' Jenny; and were gratified to learn that you were all well, and that things were going on in the usual style with you. Poor Jenny appears to have improved greatly in spirits since she made this courageous adventure to your side of the water; indeed she never had, or was like to have, any peace of mind or real contentment at Dumfries; so it behoved her to go, whatever became of it: on the whole it seems to have turned out very well hitherto; and we can reasonably hope she will find it a change for the better. Her husband may perhaps continue steady henceforth, with these new chances and inducements; and in that case there is room for all sorts of good anticipations. Poor soul, he has been well scourged too for his errors; and, we may hope, will learn his lesson, as the rest of us have had to do! Meanwhile it is a pleasant new interest for you in Canada, this in Hamilton; and it gives all of us comfort to reflect upon it for both your sakes.

The most interesting news you have sent lately is that “little Jane,” who has now grown a big enough Jane, is about to be married,1 and set up for her little self! Good little lassie, I remember her always, and shall always remember her, as a gleg little bairn; and it is joyful, sorrowful, and in all ways pathetic and interesting to me to hear of this new phasis of her history. Jane and I have often talked of it here; and if good wishes could make her life lucky, I do not think it would fail in that respect. You must tell us something more about her intended; some honest manful young lad, I hope;—to whom, if he comport himself well, there is a fair prospect open for beginning life. Things do differ infinitely in your new home and in your old one here, in that respect! With us, the outlook is daily more confused, difficult and almost impossible: I confess, it would be a terror to me, had I children to try to set up in this horrible complexity. And things will not mend; I believe they have to grow much worse, or at least universally bad, before mending; and that they will not take that turn “in our thank” at all. Painful as it has been, dear Brother, you ought to be very thankful, and all of us ought, that you and yours are where you are and as you are!— Enclosed here is a scrap of thin paper; which, I am taught, will grow into “Forty Pounds with a premium” (some small advantage in the exchange) at any Bank in your neighbourhood or elsewhere: I must ask you to get it cashed, and keep it ready; and to give it to poor little Jane, on her wedding-day, as a gift from her Uncle and Aunt. This is all the transaction;—and if my blessing along with it could be of any avail to the young pair, sure enough that, too, silently goes.— For the rest, address me a Newspaper with three strokes so soon as you fairly get the cash, and do not, except it is handy for you, write just at once,—unless there be something wrong with the Draft, as I do not expect there will. And may all good be with our dear little Jane; and may her House, too, in the wilderness, be an honest and a fruitful industrious and blessed one!— That is all on this head.

You would notice perhaps in your Courier that Craigenputtoch was advertised again to be let.2 John M'Queen died suddenly, and Tom became tenant for two years; the lease being now out, Jamie (of Scotsbrig) went to examine, and reported that the farm was worth at least £200: M'Queen was offered it at that; declined to rise a penny above the old rent (£180); and so he being otherwise a kind of slattern, we determined to advertise as you saw. The place is now taken at £210, by one Thos Bell, lately of Whitcastle,3 whose father you knew: a smart, promising, newly-married and altogether eligible kind of tenant: so that this business (thanks to the Doctor, who has been extremely active in it) seems speedily and satisfactorily settled. Poor old Puttoch, it is the emblem to us of days that are far gone, and to me as to you it is sad, and grand withal, like the lands beyond the Grave!— “A brother of Joseph M'Adam's,”4 it seems, was one of the applicants; but, beyond all others, he could never have been preferred, I should say!—

Doubtless the Doctor has reported to you how they are going on at Scotsbrig. Jamie, in the complicated shifting course of things, manages very discreetly, and contrives to get along better than most of his neighbours: I understand the steamers and rails are gradually dragging all Annandale into new methods,—into graziery and beef, instead of ploughing and corn. Jamie goes more and more upon sheep of late years. (I understand there is going to be a railway past you also, and far better trade for your corn than you yet have.) All is changing in every province of this world:—Our dear old Mother is still reported to me as “well for her”: but I find she is really very frail, the good old Mother, and passes most of her time (reading) “in bed,” this winter; Mary's eldest daughter (Margt) attends to the house, and manages all domesticities for the Doctor and her. Such is the arrangement since Winter began; which I have no doubt is a great improvement. God bless our dear old Mother and them all! will be your prayer as well as mine.— — I duly got signal of the Sterling Book having come to you: the other day I sent one, of the 2d edition, to Jenny's address. There goes on an immense uproar of reviewing (mostly scolding and screeching, it wd seem); but I never read any of it: “Di'tha naither ill na' guid!”—Adieu, dear Brother. Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle