October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 21 May 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330521-TC-MAC-01; CL 6:390-392.


Craigenputtoch, Tuesday Night 22nd [21] May, 1833—

My Dear Mother,

I send you down two Books, and along with them a little announcement of our arrival and existence here. Being in the greatest haste, a few words must suffice.

That Edinburgh Review is distinguished by nothing but by being the last Number; otherwise one of the stupidest Books I ever looked into in this world. You may try whether you can find aught in it to suit you. But the other Book, again, will not fail to interest you a little: the first Paper, that on “Diderot1 is by a son of yours. For the rest, you have only to keep the two as clean as you can, and we shall get them back when you have done with them. Alick will perhaps like to see Diderot too; in which case you must try to gratify him.

And now for my little announcement. We got here on Monday, as I had calculated; Jane still weak enough, but glad like me to get to any “bit hadding [dwelling] of her ain fr' a' that.” She was rather sick during the drive; but got fresher afterwards. We found everything about the House in Complete order; Nancy had been diligent; and Peggy Austin had kept out the damp with great success; indeed Jane says we never were drier, and not the smallest thing has gone wrong. Peter too has the Garden all trimmed up as neatly as ever it was: so far as they go nothing could be more perfect than their performance. We have seen none of them yet: but are certainly bound to thank them heartily, “besides payment.”

The only thing of any consequence that has gone out of joint is one of the Plantations which M'Adam's people have burnt, in burning their heather. The careless lumber! That men should plant and fence and laboriously rear shelter in this wilderness; and then a hash of hashes come and in one hour consume the fruit of 20 years industry! However, it is needless to speak anything about it. One comforting circumstance is that it was rather a bad Planting; tho' here again unluckily, it lies close to us, in daily view: it is the one at the north end of the “heathery park”; between the Glaisters Hillside and the road; on your left hand, as you set out from Stumpy to come hither. Joseph2 was in a great fuff about it, we learn; he also writes to Mrs Welsh that he will “come good for it.” Good for it! Can he make these black scrags into green trees again? I have not seen him yet; but will.— On the whole, I disturb myself comparatively little: what good shall I ever get of these woods at any rate? Be not careful over much.

The grass in our Field is all up and rough; Jamie may come up with his Colt when he likes: for I see no other use we can put the provender to, no gig-horse that we can borrow, and I am minded to buy none.

But, on the whole, my Dear Mother, I think it will be better for you to make an effort and come too, when there is travelling this way. We should like you very well, just now; and have even need of you. Jane is still very feeble (she had a wretched ill-turn of headache &c this very evening, not an hour ago); and there is no nurse but myself. I feel confident that she is getting strong again; but it may be weeks before she is as well even as she was.

There is meal enough here; some six stones, they say: but it is very raw; and we want two stones of Scotsbrig meal to make porridge for ourselves. By the first opportunity, you can let us have it.

What if Sandy or Jamie should come up with you the very next Wednesday (which appears to be Whitsun Wednesday)? If you were at Dumfries that day there would be plenty of Carts up hither; but, indeed, I should not like to risk you, on such a principle, without Alick. Could I know of you, how easy were it to come down with the Clatch. Consult with your two sons, and see what they will do.

I wrote to the Doctor from Thornhill; delivered him all your messages, and instructed him to apprise you whenever he set foot on British ground. If all go well, we shall hear of him in the course of the ensuing month.3

At Dumfries I saw Uncle John; who reported all in their usual state. He himself is grown a little deafer.

Our Cow has not calved; but is expected, they say, very soon.

I am now close on the end of this rigmarole; can only send you all my love, my continual good wishes. It was the truest pleasure I have had for many a day to see you all so quiet, composed and well-doing; both at Catlinns and Scotsbrig I felt that there was much reason to bless the Giver of Good that all this was still left us. Continue to watch over your children, my dear Mother; and let us all continue to love and honour you. Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle

Jane had “several little things” to send: but, poor lassie, she is in bed; and I will not let her rise to seek them. Tell the other Jane to write—directly unless you are coming.