January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 29 March 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310329-TC-MAC-01; CL 5:257-258.


Craigenputtoch, 29th March 1831—

My Dear Mother,

I must not shut up shop, tired as I am, without throwing you a word. Grace Caven will deliver it tomorrow faithfully, and it may relieve some of your anxieties.

All is well here, and in its usual way. When I wrote that hurried scribble from Dumfries, Alick confidently expected that he would be with you on the Wednesday following. He was accordingly down as far as Dumfries; and had his foot in the very stirrup to go farther, when a Letter from Stewart was put into his hands, adjourning the day of settlement till Monday. Alick would have sent you word of this, to prevent your anxieties: but it was then evening, and all conveyances were gone.— Well; on Monday, before sunrise, the unwearied pilgrim was on the road again; at Annan by the appointed hour (11 o'clock); and there found Stewart, Nelson,1 and some five or six Competitors: but after toiling and estimating Cauls [mill-weirs] (with R. Brown) &c &c till six o'clock at night, was obliged to come away leaving the whole thing as undecided as ever! We are all very wae for him; Jane, I think, was even greeting [weeping], and frets and speculates, almost as our dear Mother would: but what can we do? Stewart durst not decide the matter without again consulting the Proprietor; the estimates for the Caul being higher than he expected, &c—and he himself (I think we may add) being one of the most singular Men of Business that ever acted in that character. In short, it will most probably be a full fortnight before the business can be settled either way; and so much good time must be lost in suspense. Alick seemed to say that from “the appearance of things” he reckoned his own chance very small: but on cross-questioning, I could discover no ground for this surmise; it rather appeared to me that matters stood exactly where they were; and that not even the Factor (dawdling individual!) had yet made up his mind. Nelson, who is far above any jockeying, or even unfriendliness said that he “did not at all know.” He had “done everything that he could”; and last week he advised Alick not to offer more rent. So there it must lie for the present. If not it, some other place will receive the poor Flitter, and his stock: he can take Grass Parks, he says; and next year, as Young advised him, “have a fly at the Dairlaw Hills.”

From Jack we have had a Letter, and expect another (partly) tomorrow. He is well in health; trying some new scribbling scheme, but convinced, now at last, that only in Medical practice is there any safety for him. He had some notion about applying for some Assistantship or other (could such be found in London[) in] which Jeffrey might perhaps assist him. This I warmly [en]couraged; and repeatedly, for I have written him two large Letters (under cover to Buller). I think he is growing very decidedly wiser and better than he was; in which case there is nothing to be apprehended of him. I told him to try Medicine to the uttermost: if he could do no good in London; and found his last five-pound note broken into, to bundle and come off hither, and we would consult farther about it. I told him this in all affection; he answered very properly that he would do so,—but not until among his last shifts. For the present he has Cash, and many kind friends; and as I said, he seems to be fast laying aside his whims and impracticable notions; gathering sense and strength indeed, and manly and even religious wisdom: so that we should be patient and thankful.— For myself I am dashing away at my Book, and determined to have it done and printed. Were it never so little that I wrote, “it'll no loup out again”!2

These things, My Dear Mother, I have written in the way of Narrative, to satisfy your motherly fears: of Inquiries, and anxieties of my own I could [sic] all a whole sheet. Tell the good Jean to write me, if none else will: about you and your health, about my Father, &c &c. Take care of yourselves both in these frightful East-winds.— Good night, dear Mother!— May God be ever near you all!— Your affectionate Son,

T. Carlyle

[JWC's postscript:]

I have hired Grace Cavin for my Mother the other being too much ‘a pig in a poke.’ Grace I expect will be adequate to fight her own battle—even litterally if it come to that extremity[.]3

God bless you all affectionately yours