The Collected Letters, Volume 4


ALEXANDER CARLYLE AND TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 2 February 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260202-ACTC-JAC-01; CL 4:30-32.


Hoddam-Hill, Thursday morning. [2 February 1826]

My Dear Jack [Alexander Carlyle writes],

As an opportunity occurs of sending you a letter to day along with the proofsheets, I am loath to let it pass unimproved, tho' in truth I have little or nothing to communicate in return to your kind little note which I received by the Waffler.

You are “well enough tho' very busy and confused and sometimes sad” you say. I am sorry, my dear Brother, to tell you that my own condition at present is still less enviable. Instead of “being busy” I am bone-idle (which in itself is a curse) ill-haired [surly] and often sad. Truely Jack “we have much to struggle with,” as you remark, and greatly need each others consolation and brotherly support. Matters will change (Time and hours wear out the roughest blast1) and I hope the date is not distant nor the day far away. “His Honour” you will be surprised to learn, and us have at last come to a final settlement about this weary farm. He has engaged [Alexander stops; Thomas begins] (Alick is off to Annan, and the Proof-sheets cannot wait; so I must write a dash or two myself. “His Honour has engaged”) to let the worthy tenants out of this El Dorado of a farm, on the simple payment of their rent; formally and in black and white, taking on himself all clags2 and claims, which Blackadders heirs or any man woman or child on God's Earth may pretend to allege against them on that score. In short he has found himself induced to do just as they wished him; and so, Heaven be thanked, this poorest of all poor stories has now had a beginning, a middle, and—an end.

We have lost Shawbrae: Creighton seems to be a whippler [trifler], is believed to have lied to us; and “Bob of the Bank”3 gets Supplebank, Bogside and Shawbrae! Our Mother was terribly frightened with that hasty letter that I sent; thinking some one or both of us must be dead: when she found it but to indicate the loss of the farm her remark was: Plague may care! They considered it even then as lost; yet they sent away their letter, and next day heard word that Bob was the favoured candidate. An answer came to them yesterday; saying, in a polite page and a half, rather less than—nothing. Here then is another thing that is ended.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast: our Father is now all agog about Scotsbrig; to which Robert Carlyle,4 acquainted with the Laird, has volunteered in his handsomest style to introduce him. The letter is off: and another week will likely give us farther news of it. Alick seems to care little for it: I imagine he rather wants a place of his own; and this I hope he will soon have. For the present he is without work, or has only very little. The rest seem to think Scotsbrig would do; but they put no faith in getting it, tho' I cannot but think it seems to have some likelihood.

I had to walk from Beattock,5 and a nasty job it was. The Glasgow Coach I found went down exactly half an hour—before mine arrived. I reached Mainhill about nine o'clock; and my luggage came down next day by the Mail. I am fast getting round to my old state.

Ma-Corking-pin [M'Corkindale] does not understand this work of proof-sheets: last night he sent me two—for which I paid simply 1/1 each, the whole packet (the same if it had contained forty) being charged 2/2. I have sent him a note expounding the matter: if you see him, you can explain it farther.

I have written Fouqué's Life;6 almost a sheet; and the vilest piece of scribbling you ever saw. I am begun translating Aslauga's Knight.7 Fouqué and his wife I design to squeeze in at the end of this volume; Tieck will begin the next. Of course I am what might be called dreadfully busy; nor do I expect any change for several months. Tant mieux [So much the better]! The hand of the diligent maketh rich.8

They are speaking about sending you another box by and by. Next time I hope you will catch M'Corkindale's proofs, and send us a long [letter] explaining both what you have (either in your heart or your wall-pre[ss)] and also what you want. Have you changed your lodgings? Have you put pen to paper on your Thesis?

If you go out, of a Saturday, you might cast an eye on “Houses to let.” Brewster must have failed in getting Wilson's consent;9 for which I cannot say that I am sorry. Nevertheless it is still possible, that I may come and settle in your city at Whitsuntide. A little while will try.

Our poor Aunt Anne is dead and buried, some ten days ago! She seemed to have had no pain or consciousness; but faded out of the world as in a sleep. Saunders' wife (He of the Manse at Ecclefechan) died since I went away, of a very few days illness. “The cup goes round!”

I have no more news or time to tell them. You will write with Macork's sheets. All here salute you kindly. I am your Affe Brother

Thomas Carlyle