The Collected Letters, Volume 4


JEAN CARLYLE, JWC AND TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 19 February 1828; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18280219-JJT-MAC-01; CL 4:326-329.


21 Comley Bank [19 February 1828]

[Jean Carlyle:] My dear Mother,

I was unwilling to fill up this room which I knew might have been used to more purpose; but I am to write good or bad. and I may here thank very heartily for the nice little gown that you sent me, and I may also say that fortune seems to fa—[Jane Welsh Carlyle:] vour I suppose; but the rest will follow in another place; here I must write a few lines. For in a minute Ellen will be come in with materials for a Dumpling (to regale my Aunt Grace1 at dinner,) and I shall have little enough time to manufacture it, being to attend a chemical lecture in the College at two oclock. I were very ungrateful however if I did not thank you by the earliest opportunity for the shower of christian comforts2 you have sent down upon us, particularly on unworthy me. The drawers I have had on and find still more comfortable than my flannel ones; the stockings too are far warmer than Crookshank's,3 particularly the black ones which look as if they were made for eternity. And Mag I am sure will be glad to hear that no egg was b[r]oken, only one or two of the uppermost lair [layer] were cracked, and these we fried and eat upon the spot. In short the box as a whole gave high and general satisfaction; and is likely to keep us all in mind of Scotsbrig for some twelve months to come (for I see not how all these puddings and hams &c are to be consumed in a shorter period). I for one, so long as the ham lasts, shall every morning at breakfast remember you with thanksgiving, and perhaps some time after it is done.

In case Jane [Jean] does not tell you herself I may assure you she is doing exceedingly well. She enjoys good health, seems content with her earthly lot, and by her good behaviour gives the greatest contentment to both her Brother and me. So keep your good heart at rest about her for I dare promise you will have no occasion to repent letting her come.

You inquire after my dear little Aunt;4 I grieve to say she is no better. Indeed last week she was in the most perilous condition with spasms in her lungs. at present however thank God she is out of danger. Surely the warm weather will bring her round again. in nothing else have I any hope—

Carlyle is to be down to you in a few weeks—but recollect you are not to keep him above a day or two. I must off to my Dumpling— I am already too late.

God bless you all—affectionately yours

Jane Welsh Carlyle

[Jean Carlyle again:] -vour—me in that particular at present—only this week there came to me from Mrs Welsh a beautiful red printed one with a fine silk napkin so you see———

[TC:]—Poor Jane is off again, some interruption having occurred; and I being obliged to write at present or not at all, for I am busy all morning, and have an odd hour even now. I hope Janet Graham's frank will carry this down safe for you, and her own five pounds: and doubtless you will like it no worse for having a word in it from me.

We are all as well as usual, and I am busier, which is a better way of it. I have a little paper to write (on Goethe) for the Foreign Review, and it is to be done against a day; I believe this day fortnight. The people seem to wonder much at my Reviewing operations, but on the whole they do me good, and make me known over the country as a distinct man that mean well, and stand (rather decidedly) upon my own legs. I sent you down a newspaper the other week, where one Brown[e], an Advocate and Loggerhead,5 speaks of me in a wondrous style. I am told there was great praise given me in other papers, but I chanced to see no other, so could not send them. I think in about twenty years, if there is anything in me, such men as Brown[e] and Company may begin to see it; not sooner, nor do I wish it.— But I must tell you a word about St Andrews; and a single word will settle it all for you: I yet know nothing farther, nor, I think does any one else, as to how the business will go. My certificates (except Goethe's) are all there; the men have not yet decided; and if they are to decide by appearance of merit, I imagine they must give the place to me. If not they may give it to whomsoever they list; and I as one individual shall never be heard complaining. I hope only we shall know before whitsunday, that so we may settle the flitting rightly.— Goethe has written to me, but unluckily our letters must have crossed each other on the road, and his is not an answer, but a question and an announcement. There is another packet of books &c coming for me; and two medals which I am to deliver in his name to Sir Walter Scott! This may prove a strange introduction to the Baronet: I am only grieved that the packet must be so long in arriving; the Leith people tell me it cannot be here for five weeks.— But I must draw bridle for this sheet is all but done. I wrote yesterday to Sandy, saying that after three weeks I should be ready to come down whenever he pleased; and I need not say that I shall be few days in Dumfriesshire till I see my dear good mother, and have a dish of tea and a smoke with her again! Meantime you will thank Mag again for her pains in writing; and tell my Father with what joy I saw his firm old rugged handwriting (tho' only a fragment) once more: I [have] begged Sandy to forward his journey to Craigenputt[och] [letter torn] persuade and force him to go.

This after all is but a very thin letter: but I know you will be glad of it, and receive it without criticism. Remember me to Jamie and poor little Jenny, into the state of whose medals I propose inquiring minutely when I come down. Good-night my dear Mother—ever your Son— T. C.

[Marginal postscripts:] This is wednesday-night, the 19th Febr 1828. And the womankind is upstairs.

I hope by and by to get another Newspaper, and send it: the Courier I still sometimes see, but it is an utter rag.

Many thanks for your honest little letter, a true piece of composition as ever was put together, and better for me than the grandest.

The snow is nearly gone here, and was not so deep as we hear it was with you. Again Good b'ye.

A letter of mine is on the road for Jack, and must now be near Munich.


‘Postst,’ 5th6 is almost a Letter, as will be seen,—the proper Postscript of it by me. I remember almost nothing of that ‘Scotsbrig Journey,’—except my arrival & approach,—thro Middlebie, on a clear windy night, riding solus, on my old mischievous swift Larry;—and the strange pathetic nearly painful feeling whh the smell of the peatfires sent into me there! Journey was undertaken doubtless for Craigk's sake: Alick and Sister Mary were already residt and busy there since abt Octr last. My two nights at Craigk with them (middle of March or so) I vividly enough recollect: Proof-sheets of Goethe's Helena in my pocket; & Dumfries “architects” to confer with! Scene grim enough, outlook too rather do; but resolutn fixed enough.