October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 31 July 1832; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18320731-TC-MAC-01; CL 6:197-199.


Craigenputtoch, Tuesday Night / 31st July, 1832—

My Dear Mother,

I meant at any rate to write you a line tonight, and here comes, on Sabbath from Church, a brave Letter from John, which will make the package better worth carriage. Our good Doctor is well, and has now heard of our welfare: it is altogether a very comfortable Letter. I have written him a long Answer today; wherein I failed not to mention how many kind things you wished to say to him, and that he must imagine them all. I think we shall certainly see good of the poor Doctor, in spite of everything.

I got up handsomely enough that day; came upon Ben Nelson on Dodbeck brae, and scraiched [shouted] two or three miles with him (for he was on a pony that would not lead), then said goodb'ye, with appointment to meet again in Town; as accordingly we did, and had a long talk together. He told me of Waugh: how old Peg, his Aunt, had died, and left him £50; wherewith what does the possessed person do but go off to Benson's and the King's Arms with it, and sit there till he has eaten and drunk the last sixpence of it: then back to unpeeled potatoes and repose! Bray a fool in a mortar, he will not depart from his folly.1

M'Diarmid's Library business would not answer: so I must try some other Establishment; have yet found none.

Jane was sitting waiting for me, or rather running out half-distracted to meet me: she bids me say she rued right sore not coming on with me, and will surely do so next time. She is still in the way of improvement; proceeding, slowly. We ride, and drive, and drink trefoil (threefold) and other bitters, and do the best we can. The weather is very sultry and thirsty; rain would do us good, as well as the grass. Jane goes to Dumfries in the Gig tomorrow with the Boy; a-shopping, and will take this along with her. Isabella M'Turk was here about a ten days; a quiet, compliant creature, well adapted for dowrying: a man came for her yesterday, and now we are by ourselves again.

The peats are all home; a most effectual-looking stack: ninety cartloads to front the winter with. We have got hay too; Rowantree2 came and offered me what I wanted at 6d a stone; I sent Peter Austin down to inspect the weighing for me, and now the loft is quite chokefull: 180 stones of Rowantree's, and perhaps 50 that was left of Alick's. The horses seem very willing to eat it. On Thursday I mean to send the Boy off for Alick's beast; and down with my own, for there is not grass here; perhaps Alick may send him forward to Scotsbrig if he have no room for “the mare”: but that is not likely. We shall then have our summer's work by.

As to my work, it wears but a sluggish look yet: I have been translating and revising some German things for the Magazine, and am now done; a larger task must forthwith be entered on. I must not come back to you, till this be finished: when I cannot positively say; you shall hear from me how I get on. Would it be quite impossible that some of you should come up hither and see us before shearing-time: say Jane, my valued Correspondent; would nobody take her work for a week; she engaging to do the like for that body some other time? You said once, you would come when the rasps [raspberries] were ready: now here they are, and the blackbirds eating them all.

In any case, tell Jane to order me a Leghorn (coarse) broad brimmed Hat from the Grahams,3 to be got ready with all despatch: the measure of my Hat, outside, is just 2 feet and one half-inch, no more and no less: my shape (of a flattish brim, slightly turned up behind) the people already know. Tell her also to write to me with all minuteness very soon. I am taking it for granted that my dear Mother, and the rest of them, are in the usual way: but need from time to time to be assured of it. M'Diarmid, who clatters everlastingly, about cholera, declared last week that it was near you; as indeed it may soon be near us all. It will go its course, and keep [the road a]ppointed it, and do the work marked out for it: why flutter and fluster ourselves? Did our Great Creator and sure Redeemer send us the cholera; or did some other send it? I think it is a folly even to speak of the subject, unless there is some new light to be thrown on it; such as “the able Editor” has not to throw. I inclose you, on a [word illegible] a small stave [short song] by Goethe, which “occurred in the thing I was translating.”4— Alas, dear Mother, the Paper is done, and I hardly begun. But indeed I know not when I should end. I must now out for my gloaming-shot [twilight interval] on the Glaisters Hill side.— May God keep you all! I forget no day to think of you, to pray for you in my way. Be good and faithful, “loving one another,”5 as it is commanded. Good night!

T. Carlyle.