January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 5 April 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310405-TC-MAC-01; CL 5:260-261.


Craigenputtoch, Tuesday Night [5 or 12 April 1831]—

My Dear Mother,

Alick received a Letter yesterday from Stewart of Gillenbie; wherein with civil enough words the man informs him that the Annan Mill is let—to “a professional Miller”; the Proprietor having so willed it. The Rent is less than Alick offered.

So that this speculation falls to the ground, and after considerable riding hither and thither, we find ourselves pretty near term-day; and for the rest standing exactly where we started. I write you this piece of news (good or bad, we cannot know which), that, if you do not know it, you may be delivered from suspense.

We had partly foreseen this issue; and been calculating what was next to be tried. To think of forming any permanent settlement, now when Whitsunday is so near,1 seems out of the question: the utmost that can be got were a cheap House, with perhaps a park or two; there to lie as quiet as possible till next season, when the world is all before one.2 Young, your Factor, was speaking of Dairlaw-Hills and Stenny-Beck, to Alick; the first of which A. thinks if it could be got reasonably were a fair settlement to try oneself in. Doubtless somewhere or other there is ground to till for a man that can till; the world has work in it for one able and willing to work. Meanwhile the business is, to get a lodging for the current year.

Alick thinks he could furbish up our Peat-house, and live quite comfortably in it; a plan which really seems to me not the least feasible he might fall on. There is no flitting, in the first place (or the least possible); next year he has to flit again go where he will: then his crop and outstanding debts (from the Whitsunday Roup [sale by auction]) are all hereabouts; he may have a horse kept, and share of our Cow; there is also considerable work to be done (with fuel &c), for which I must pay somebody, and may as well pay him. It seems to me, he could nowhere be so cheap, and open for employment: the Cottage too is no such deplorable place, but tight and dry; would do very well for summer; and, in winter, it is likely enough they might get this house of ours to live in; at least, we are much bent at present on being off somewhither during that season. Jane was for them taking part of our house even now (tho' not unapprised of the difficulties attending such an arrangement); but Alick clearly prefers the Peathouse, and I think is right. So far as we ourselves are concerned (that is, the Good Wife and I), we could almost, selfishly rejoice at the failure of the Mill scheme; for we were to have been very lonely; and of late, all things have been moving more sweetly than ever they did,—as indeed is the way with human things; the end of them is often musical, like the Swan's who dies singing.—— In short, I rather conjecture that this has some chance to be the arrangement for the summer. However I have not seen Alick all day (for his Fanners [winnowing machines] have been jingling in the Barn): if anything new be thought of I will let you hear with all speed. I doubt whether this scrawl is worth two-pence; yet on the whole I believe you will think it so.

As for myself I am struggling forward daily with my Book, and hope to be done sometime in June. This has been one of my dull bilious days: I was up too early and have done almost no good (except catching a mole in the garden): however, in general I am quite in my average health; and sometimes hope my Book will not be a Dud.

Of your state my Dear Mother I can only form conjectures, and hope, not without daily heartfelt prayers, that all may be well. Jean, I think, ought to write. Yet I know how busy you are: the spirit willing, but the hand slow.3 God have you all in his keeping!

T. Carlyle

We had a (very brief) Letter from Jack; who is in good health, and spirits: I expect his next Letter perhaps next week, when his projects will have better unfolded themselves. I have no room here to write anything. He has good friends in London; or his case would be worse. I hope some of them will get him some employment—medical employment; for that is the only thing will ever do him real good. Wit he is undoubtedly learning, and it is time. Again Dear Mother, good Night T.C.