The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 4 February 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530204-TC-JAC-01; CL 28: 30-31


Chelsea, 4 feby 1853—

My dear Brother,—I could not understand your Letter yesterday morning; being, at any rate, overwhelmed with petty details and hurrying extranea [additional matters], all day, till five o'clock struck, so that I got no walking till after dinner. Reading over the Letter again after tea, & summoning up my remembrances, Jane and I together made it out. Heigho! What to answer now in order to expedite the business, is the question with me before going farther.

I engaged to do thorough-draining for T. Bell and Craigenputtoch,1 on Jamie's consenting along with him, to the extent of £200. Very well: Jamie does not consent to drain;—and I, hearing this, remember well my total want of intention to lay out any money at all there except on improvements that were lasting (dictated in some sort by a kind of landlord-conscience in my abstruse function there); the half of the original sum, however, since it is expected of me by indubitably friendly judgements, I consent to lay out on lime, on the terms proposed; and hope it is thus settled in a satisfying manner. So stood it when I wrote last.

It now appears, however, that I am already concerned with the draining of “two small fields” (to what amount I do not know), and that the £100 is required over and above that. I had vaguely supposed that it was Bell himself who was draining hitherto, and shewing us the way, or trying whether there was one. We must endeavour first of all, of course, to get honourably out of that, and conclude it.

It appears to me therefore to be a very needful preliminary to ascertain exactly (or as near that as possible) how far we are already engaged for draining,—what the “two small fields” which it is decided to drain will cost us, will cost me, that is. We shall then be clear out of that part of the business, and have done with draining. I know not which “two fields” it is; nor is that of the least consequence, Jamie having agreed for me that it ought to be done, and that there the draining ought to stop. Whatever this may cost, of course I am bound to pay with due promptitude, nay with thankfulness for any real improvement in that kind: but after that, I, equally of course, have nothing more to do with the “£200” that was promised, or talked of,—the purpose for which it was intended not remaining any longer, but having vanished now from the field of practice or adviseability. I still find it quite inexpedient that I should lay out any money at all on Craigenputtoch except what “conscience” requires of me,—namely for permanent improvements (such as every Landlord, or Rent-eater ought to be ready to do), or for engagements entered into with a tenant,—which, I think, in the present case, do not exist any farther (certainly not in an express form) than the “two small fields” in question. I could wish, therefore, as a preliminary to all things, that this were first of all sorted out to the bottom; and the sick separated from the whole,— i.e. the voluntary, or partly voluntary, from what is of direct obligation. This once done, we shall see better what is in the lime or whether anything; but this first.

I am sorry, my dear Brother, you get so much trouble with what is not your burden but mine: however, I cannot help it. If Mr G.2 Bell's Correspondence press on you, answer him at once that I must first know what this of permanent draining amounts to;—and that the question of lime, if not then capable of being settled at once, must lie over till my next visit to Annandale, when I can talk of it, for really this of corresponding on the subject falls too heavy on me in my present intricate condition!— — I am terribly in confusion with my Fk and other enterprises and affairs; in a quite wretched shivery state of nerves, for one thing,—the worst of all things! Yours ever

T. Carlyle