January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 3 April 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420403-TC-JWC-01; CL 14: 110-114


Templand, Sunday, 3 April, 1842—

My Dearest,

Yesterday one of my poor purposes was frustrated, and tomorrow you will feel the disappointment; which I already today, and yesternight when it was too late, very much regret. It is so little that I can do for you; I might at least write a Letter! Accordingly my full intention yesterday was to do it: but I set out in the rough wind, while the weather was dry, for a long walk: I went by Penpont, up Scaur Water, round the foot Tynron Doon; I had all along been remembering a poor little joiner's-cottage, which I saw once when poor Auntie and you and I went up, on ponies, to visit the Macturks:1 this ride, this cottage which was the centre of it in my memory, I would again recal by looking at the places,—the places which abide, while all else vanishes so soon. It was a day of tempestuous wind, but the Sun occasionally shone, the country was grim-bright, the hills of an almost spiritual clearness, and broad swift storms of hail came dashing down from them on this hand and that. It was a kind of preternatural walk, full of sadness, full of purity. The Scaur Water, the clearest I ever saw except one, came brawling down; the voice of it, like a lamentation among the winds, answering me, as the voice of a brother wanderer and lamenter,—wanderer like me thro' a certain portion of Eternity and Infinite Space: poor brook, yet it was nothing but drops of water, my thought alone gave it an individuality; it was I that was the “wanderer,”—far older, and stranger, and greater than the Scaur, or any river or mountain or Earth-planet or thing!— The poor joiner's-cottage I could not recognize; no joiner at least was now there: I went to the farther shoulder of the Doon, near Kennedy's house, and then turned homeward again. It was four when I returned; Dr Russell had been here, and was just gone: Robt Macqueen still sat here, meaning to stay dinner. Poor man, I felt him to deserve a kind of welcome. He had already been here twice in vain. It was after Post-hours before he went away to Gilchristland,—and I did not till then clearly remember that you had heard nothing from me for two days. Robert is really an innocent ingenuous kind of man. I made him give me old genealogies of the Baillies and Welshes; in which he seemed to be perfect.2 He remembered being at the Castle in Crawford when about three years old, with his Mother: “There was a wean [infant] in the cradle; this must have been Mrs Welsh!” He remembered your grandmother (a “beautiful jolly woman”) passing the night with her little ones at his Father's Farm, on their way to Caplegill.3 Ay de mi!— We set up the poor blown holly, he and I; stooped it sufficiently with sticks. I gave him the old Backgammon-board, which he remembered for almost 50 years. He went away with the late twilight. It was then too late for writing to my poor Jeannie; of whom nevertheless my thoughts were full.

This morning come your Letters; this morning I take time by the forelock, and will not go out at all till I have set down a word for you.

My stay here has now a fixed term set to it: after Thursday come a week, there will be no habitation for me here. I went to the Factor or Chamberlain, as I proposed on Friday: a harmless, intelligent enough, rather wersh [weak]-looking man; he had “no power,” he told me; the “Duke's answer” could not be here till the end of next week,—there was little doubt but it would be as I wished: I decided straightway on proceeding with the sale and the other assortments; waiting no longer for Dukes and dependants of Dukes. Their part of the business will gradually be settling itself in the interim;—or at worst, I must leave the tagrags of it with Hunter, who is both competent and willing. The babbling inconclusive palaver of the rustic population here, if you have anything to do with them, is altogether beyond a jest to me: I positively feel it immoral and disgusting. With the Jardine's I will speak no more at all, till I have a Paper all drawn up, and ask them to sign it, or to say No, and depart forevermore. On the whole, however, I expect no real difficulty there.

This then is the last quiet week I shall have here. I have written to my Mother, who volunteered to come up and stay with me a day or two, that if she dare risk the weather she must do it now. I almost fear such a journey for her; she is by no means strong, a degree below even her average I think. But she will, likely, never see Templand more; neither may I soon have a chance of two-days' composure beside her again.— I have also written to Jamie Aitken to secure the Packer, and have him here (or ready for coming) on Tuesday week. Out of your Letters and my own remembrances I have compiled a List of retinenda [things to be retained], or things not to be sold; and will enclose it here; requesting to have it back again from you, after a day or at most two days, with your remarks. You will get it on Wednesday; if it can come away on Thursday again, that is best; if not till Friday,—still well, I shall have it here this day week. The Sale is fixed for the Thursday following that. The Packer, as I said, will come up two days before (on Tuesday probably): on the evening of Thursday come a week, there will be no longer a habitation here. The notion once was to make it Friday; but I remembered after I was in bed, and, with a very childish feeling, wrote, in my shirt, that it must be Thursday rather. Why this? I know not, but felt only that this must be.

I now decide clearly for bringing the drawingroom chairs; the Auctioneer says they will sell only for about 5/ each, being “old-fashioned” for the rich, and of worth only to poorish people: certainly we will bring them, their fashion is altogether agreeable to me,—and to you. Grandfather's poor old desk must not be sold either; the Auctioneer values this at 25/: I had thoughts, for the last few days, of giving it to my brother Alick; who has no such article of furniture, I think; who alone poor unfortunate, has no memorial left him,—a thing he will feel deeply. Jamie has such a desk, a bigger one, which belonged to my Father. This is a strong old article, this little one here; not broken anywhere, except at the ends of the two sliders (for the folding-lid) where it will be easily repaired. Such things are difficult of carriage. Decide you, however. On the whole I have had more difficulty than enough contriving some memorial for the three women; I consulted Jean, who could only answer, They would like some permanent thing best. I thought of giving Jean the Cottar's Saturday Night, Picture; Mary the Bonnet with some small Book, perhaps some tablecloth or bed coverlid; there is a poor print of Grace Darling, which I have been destining for Jenny,4 with a similar addition to Mary's. Consult Helen's List,5 page 3; you will see what things are here,—tablecloths 15, quilts 6 (besides those that are to come), 24 blankets (do): you want no blankets, I think, except those that are on my present bed (green bed), and those which were hers? Or would you have all the blankets that seem good for much brought up? Blankets, you reflect, are of all things the easiest carried: light, needing no package, nay capable of assisting in package. On the other hand, if we have blankets enough? Such things are far saleablest here.— The tambourine will of course go to Liverpool along with the Table. The Aeolean Harp shall not be forgotten,—brought, is it not to be?— Now let us be pointed: you have time enough to speak to me yet this once, and I might speak again; but there will be no time for a reply of yours. I think you had best, as far as possible, stand by the List, the image of what your wishes had already fixed upon. Enough, for this day.

I meant to go to Crawford, after the Stonecutter had done; he will be on his way thither this day: the weather shall be bad, or time press hard, if I do not now go. My poor little Wife!

You have here a Letter of Lockhart's which came today: you can preserve the verses, which I think very good and true.6 I have written to Montgomery and the other, whose letters are here again: poor Geikie7 got an autograph with a penny-frank. I will agree to what Chambers proposes: did you know the “Mrs Beg?”8——— I forget always to ask, Whether Cousin Jeannie and you punctually take yourselves a glass of that good port or sherry? Be punctual. There is a new Box of wine (four dozen, I understand) arrived from Leith: is it opened yet? Some bundle of shirts for John ought to be in it: pray tell me.— You will have to send away the old piano. We must have Wicks (or Weeks)9 for joiner: but it will be between 3 and 4 weeks before the things actually arrive yet.— Well, my poor Jeannie, I must end now. Remember that excursion into the green of Kent; if at any time the Sun shine, and wind be S. W., that is your day. Cousin Jeannie shall be responsible. Take care of those “palpitations”: the sign of extreme weakness. A glass of good port daily at dinner. Be strong when I return! Adieu, with my blessings

T. Carlyle