The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 6 May 1828; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18280506-TC-AC-01; CL 4:371-374.


21. Comley Bank, 6th May, 1828—

My Dear Alick,

We are not without hopes of getting a Letter from you on Friday morning to tell us how matters progress at the Craig; but lest there should be any disappointment, indeed whether or not, I must write to you tonight, for the time is approaching, and our movements ought to be arranged.

As I am excessively busy with my Reviewing (in which I prosper as badly as may be, being bilious) I shall restrict myself at present to the rigidly needful: we shall have time enough soon to discuss everything with far more freedom.

You would get the Paper1 almost a fortnight ago, and a little Note along with it.2 The parcel was directed to our Uncle; and as I have heard no word, I infer that the whole tale of Pieces [lengths of wallpaper] was complete, and everything as it should be.

The next point to be considered is that of the flitting. Our term day falls a day earlier than yours, on Sunday come a fortnight; but of course there can be no entrance effected by our Successor till the Monday following. The process of packing, and stowing is to begin very soon; so that all may be in some degree of readiness for throwing on the carts when you arrive. But here a rather important consideration occurs: how the sufficient stock of carts is to be obtained? They promised two from Scotsbrig; we counted also on two from Templand, and the rest from the Craig. But now, it appears, neither two nor even one from Templand can be had: there is no such thing either as a roadworthy vehicle and horse there, or a roadworthy man! Yet somehow or other five carts, as we calculate, must be come at; nay we are still in doubt whether six may not be required. We judge thus: it took two carts and a half, and a waggon drawn by two strong horses, to bring the articles from Haddington; and we have got the grates &c in addition, a sideboard on the other hand being wanting. You can judge from this, as well as I: but I should think five carts might do.

To get us these five carts and appear with them on the ground, we trust of course to our general Provider, Alick of the Craig. Will you consult with Jamie (I do not think I need write to him; for it will be necessary that you should see him), and adjust the business between yourselves? Have not you three horses? Surely some way or other, you will raise the required number. Sufficiency of straw should be brought in them for loading the articles (they will be packed in mats &c before you come); and that, I think, is all we want you to bring.

The next thing to be considered is the time. As I mentioned already, we can stay here till Monday the 26th: but it will create a dreadful hurry, and besides throws you under the necessity of staying over sunday by the road. We reckon it would be better were you to come earlier, so that we might have “a' by” the previous week. If Jemmy and you were to arrive on the Wednesday night or so, you might load on Thursday, and be at the Craig on Saturday Night. This we can manage, and as it will save expense perhaps it may be better, but you and he can judge. The only thing is to let us know in time. The servant maid, we suppose, will have to go down with the other baggage: she has a pair of limbs, and seems to be a shifty sort of character.

I know not if you are aware of the stages on the road but you will soon learn. You Craigenputtochers come by Elwanfoot,3 Crawfurd, Chesterhall4 (a solitary inn), Biggar, and then you have two roads, by Noblehouse or by Bridgehouse, of which both have been lately repaired and are very smooth, but perhaps the first is better and rather longer. If you take this first track, your road comes upon Jemmy's some five miles before you reach Noblehouse; and you and he by timing matters might contrive to meet before you came to Edinr, so that the stranger might not be apprehensive. Biggar is about thirty miles from Edinr, and a town such as Lockerby; Crawfurd is some twelve miles nearer you. The roads I believe are very good all the way after you cross the Nith.

And now, my dear Alick, if you can unravel what I have here put down, I believe there is in it the most of what it concerns us that you should know in this business, which you will now be able to adjust of yourself. Write to us, as soon as possible, at farthest next Wednesday, to say how it is settled, and on what day we are to expect you; for you doubtless will require to be among the number to watch over such a cargo on such an expedition. Doubtless we shall get thro' this, as one gets thro' so much, and then we may look for quieter times. Write to us, then, the sooner the better.—— We are all well, as you may have guessed from my omitting to say the contrary: I am struggling only half thro' a long string of a story for the London Review.5 We have not heard a word of Jack; but I am not very impatient yet, for I think he must be waiting for the Leith parcel,6 which would travel rather leisurely. How is your Dear little Missus? Has she arranged about her sewing? Best love to her from all of us—

We are thinking that if the Kitchen grate is still to set, it may be as well to put in an oven at once: suppose you bought that secondhand one we saw at Lonsdale's, as cheap as you could? But is the chimney-head on, and the reek surmounted? We hope and pray that it may be so. And how fares it with the painting, the papering, the roadmaking &c &c &c? Alas! poor Alick! There is no rest for the wicked,7 nor the righteous either, in this world.— I am eve[r]your affectionate Brother— T. Carlyle.

Will you have to ride down to Scotsbrig, and adjust the thing by speech with him.8 In that case I need not write. Perhaps (only perhaps) I shall be writing to our Mother at any rate. Fail not to let us hear from you.

I think you had better get a bell hung in your room too; to divide you from the rabble.