The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 20 March 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260320-TC-JAC; CL 4:63-65.


Hoddam Hill, Monday [20 March 1826]—

My Dear Jack,

Possibly enough you are looking for the parcel this very night; and alas, it is still lying quiet in “the Village”! I had no expectation of a packet on Saturday; and did not call at the Post-office till far in the afternoon—for the newspaper, in which of course I failed, tho' my success in another way made good amends for this disappointment. Then the sheets were deplorably incorrect; and kept me busy yesterday from morning to night. At last after great labour, I have got them brought ziemlich ins Reine [fairly well corrected].

You are quite correct in your inference about Scotsbrig. Our Father returned, Thursday week,1 “on his fir deal,” at the hind foot of Larry and Alick; after doing great business in the mighty waters. By dint of unbounded higgling, and the most consummate diplomacy, the point was achieved to complete satisfaction of the two husbandmen; and Scotsbrig, free of various “clags and claims,” which they had argued away, obtained for a rent of £190 (Cheap, as they reckon it), in the face of many competitors. A solemn ploughing-day was held last week; and by the aid of ale and stingo [strong liquor], much work was effected. I rode over and saw them, a truly spirit-stirring sight. The people also are to repair the house effectually; to floor it anew, put bun-doors2 on it, new windows and so forth; and it seems, “it is an excellent shell of a house already.” Alick is ploughing at Mainhill, with two new horses; our Father is looking out for a sedate-minded galloway to carry him “between toon and toon [between farm and farm],” and so all is running on cartwheels with us here. Our Mother declares that there is “plenty of both peats and water”; others think “the farm is the best in Middlebie parish-in”; our Father seems to have renewed his youth even as the Eagle's age.3

So, my good Jack, there will still be a home for thee here; with as true a welcome, and I hope better accommodation than ever. Therefore get thy Thesis printed, and thy Graduation effected; and come home to us, with the speed of light, in the Dumfries Diligence; and look about thee, and take breath a little, till we see what more is to be done. Tell me in the meantime when thy money is wearing scant; and we will get some more.

Mrs Irving of Bogside removes to Annan Hill, to the house on the very top if it, at Whitsuntide; along with Gavin, the trusty man. Waugh's property is not sold, that I hear of: indeed I have neither seen the man, nor got any accurate tidings of him, for many months. Alick said he noticed him at Dumfries the day they were bargaining for the farm.

Grahame of Burnswark I have seen: he was at Scotsbrig on the solemn ploughing-day; and looked as fat and full of sap, as any man in the five parishes. He is to call at [sic] get tea here, about Wednesday night. What he purposes to do next I know not: but he seems in excellent heart; and I hope, has got ways and means again in his hand.

We cannot hear of any Carrier going northward: otherwise an abundant supply of creature comfort would depart hence along with him. Geordie Farries has quarrelled with Marshall the Distiller, they say; and seems quite land-locked at present.

I have sent M'Cork part of the Fourth volume; but the Life is not done or begun and I shall have a heavy week of it; freeing the renowned M'Cork from the bondage of printing on stripes, into the freedom of printing on pages. I still dread these Leipzig books: I wrote off the other day to Julius.

My Mother wishes much for a letter; and she tells me here standing that you shall get a box by Andrew Smith, who purposes setting forth some day about the middle of this week. Ask on saturday.

Ask M'Cork, if he can send me down, any of his sheets before he gets the Life; that is, if he thinks it worth while: and say Nein or Ja on the newspaper. After all it i[s ver]y little matter whether you ask or not; for I myself [thin]k nein will be better. Ever your's— T. Carlyle.

Wrap up this little parcel and send it on to Haddington by the first coach. You can read that Sower's Song,4 as it passes; and meditate thereupon. I did it, one billus night and morning, when I could not begin Goethe.

Sandy saw Frank Dickson three weeks ago; and the Atrabiliar promised to send your books; but he has never done it. I understand, he and they are over in Canobie.