October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 25 December 1832; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18321225-TC-MAC-01; CL 6:283-286.


Craigenputtoch, Tuesday Night, 25th Decr / 1832—

My Dear Mother,

Your Parcel has come into our hands, quite safe; and only a few hours ago. It was forgotten, or not delivered in time, the first Wednesday; and then the next, as you will probably have heard ere now, we were at Templand; whence we did not return till two o'clock today. We were to have come off on Saturday; but Mrs Welsh was so poorly, that morning, we did not like to leave her; thus we could not travel till Monday, which proved so bad a day that the inside of “built walls” seemed the only fit place for us. We rolled off, however, this morning; and got home well enough, tho', as you would say, with our noses tolerably “set up.” I have several things to do; among others a Letter to write to London; so you must take shorter allowance than I would otherwise gladly have given.

The Clogs seem most sufficiently done; the Drawers also are massy substantial-looking things, and will be highly welcome in the frosts I have to expect. But to express the joy that was felt at sight of the kipper is a task my Pen declines; no language just now at my command could do justice to it. A vision of friendly B[r]eakfasts in Edinr rises before the female eye, which almost like Isaac Fletcher's1 “glents [flashes] fire”; and guests are pressed to eat this savoury fish, and rejoice over it, let it kill them with indigestion afterwards or not. Seriously, Jane thinks it a very excellent piece of goods, and thanks you very heartily for it.

I suppose Alick has been at Scotsbrig before now, and has told you how he came upon us at Templand on Wednesday, and how he and I went down to Dumfries together on Friday. We expected to be back at our several lodgings again about the same hour: I was there with tolerable light, little after five o'clock, and found all as I had left it. The Dumfries people, our Uncle John among the number, were crowding the streets with Election favours in their lapells [sic], and busy deciding between Sharpe and Hannay:2 two sorrier individuals few men could be called to make choice between. They settled it doubtless, on Saturday; but how, we have not yet heard, and indeed have never taken the trouble to ask, or even guess. I said long ago, “If the Reform Bill do nothing better for us than send up 658 General-Sharpes to heal the bruises of this diseased maltreated community, I think we might as well have staid where we were.” However, let us be patient: better men it is to be hoped will come into the market;—otherwise, indeed we may give up the game.

Since I left you I have done nothing but read; at Templand I could not even get much read: we staid there far longer than I expected. I have not “put pen to paper” at all, and begin to feel very discontented. The truth is, it is always Sorrow and Pain that gives me any Insight into things: if I were always joyful I should continue always as ignorant as I am. If I [have] luck thro' winter, there must be something put down; if not something “grend,” then something mean, at all rates if possible something true.

I had a kind of cold for some days; got by clipping my hair too close; which I did (front and hindhead) with my own hand.3 The cold went away again; the hair too is now grown longer. I am sorry to see in Jean's Letterkin, what indeed I heard from Alick, that you too had caught an ailment of that kind: Alick said, you were a little better; but I fear you do not take sufficient care, and that the thing may be still hanging about you, as colds are wont. This is the nastiest season of the year; do, my dear Mother, keep yourself away from exposure; be careful of your well-being, as of a thing that is the most precious to us all. Has Jamie got Pate Easton to that kitchen yet? Tell him I would almost come down, and act as architect myself. Colds must abound among you till that vent is cured. For you, dear Mother, do not sit down there at all; have a fire up stairs, or in the end room, and keep the warmest side of it, till the Sun come back.

Our journey to Edinr is getting more precise: we expect a Letter tomorrow, which may finally settle the House we are to have, and the day we are to set out on. The first week of the newyear [sic] is the time we aim at: that is to say, to be setting off about this day fortnight. The precise day we do not yet know. Tell Alick that we settled with M'Kaig the Thornhill Carrier, who tho' 2 pence a stone dearer is so much more convenient; will come and seek the things (at Templand) and also deliver them without porterage; moreover, carries one stone at the same rate as many. Will some of your hands, therefore, get the two Butter-Pigs ready, and the Catlinns Ham, and send them by Notman directed “Mrs Welsh Thornhill, by Andrew Watson Carrier,” next Wednesday? How the Butter-Pigs should be packed I know not very well; unless one were to put a bit of Board on to overlap each end of the Pig, and then fix the two there with ropes and straw-ropes? Jamie will be able to judge better. Put “this end up” on the address, and “with care.” The things will all have to be sorted again, at Templand.—— My dear Mother, my sheet is about done; and yet I had many things more to say. I am not writing in the style of Farewell; for I have still some kind of speculation about coming down to see you before we go. I would most readily come; but the weather is so wild, and my horse so weak: I know not well what to bid you think. I have still Knox's History4 to read out; and a variety of little things to set in order. Therefore be not sure of me. Yet I think if the weather turn anyway steady, and I get thro' with matters here, I will try to jog over; perhaps it may be in the beginning of next week, perhaps on this Saturday, I cannot tell till after Wednesday. And so we will leave it there; and I will say good night for the present time, still in hope of a better. I have been thinking of you almost incessantly of late; and often with a most unthankful sadness of heart. Are we not ever in God's hand, who made us, and will have mercy on us? Be of good cheer, my dear Mother, for all shall work together for good.5—My Love to all; love one another.— Ever Your's,

T. Carlyle.

There was a Letter last Wednesday not from John but for him; from a hungry German Schoolmaster wanting a situation, especially a good situation.

Jeffrey has got his election at Edinr: much good may it do him.6

[JWC's postscript:]

My dear Mother

There is no perfection in any human doings even here in this letter, I find two egregious blunders—1st he bids you send both the butter pigs whereas only the largest it was settled between us should be sent at present—the other remaining in your safe keeping—till our return—secondly address the things to Mrs Carlyle care of Mrs Welsh otherwise my Mother will naturally suppose the whole concern for her and be disappointed when I claim my property— God bless you all— I have been frozen to day [sic] and have hardly an idea left—but I will write soon under better auspices—in the mean time believe me as ever affectionately yours

Jane W Carlyle