January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 5 April 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420405-TC-JWC-01; CL 14: 124-125


Templand, Tuesday Afternoon 5 April, 1842—

My dear Wife,— This is again a beautiful sunshiny windless day, in which I hope you participate. You get a Letter today too, and were at least without a disappointment when the Postman passed.

Mrs Black was here a little after 11 o'clock, and staid some two hours. She seems to me a very rational, honest and affectionate woman: she could not speak for some time after I brought her into this diningroom,—all vacant for her now. She gave me a long narrative of her last visit here, four weeks and two days before the end. It was the day after Peggy M'Queen had happened to arrive, after the first palsy-shock which they called “a faint.” She de[s]cribed1 how happy our poor Mother was that day; how she joked about her blockhead of a servant, and cooked dinner herself; said the “ill turn” had done her health much good; brought out all your pictures, my books &c, and was blithe and cheery as if it were now all over. It was but a few days after, when she was taken ill again, and this Margaret was sent for. Poor Mrs Black is coming up again on the day of Sale, to buy the Cow herself, “if she should even give 10/ too dear”: poor body, she shall have the Cow, or something that will suit her better. I do imagine she was one of the small joys that cheered those sad days for Her that now needs no comforting.— Since that, Margaret, set a-talking by some questions of mine, has had me at the edge of crying, or altogether crying. On the last fatal Friday morning, the poor Sick One said to her, “Margaret, I have had a bonny dream; I dreamed that my son was writing a Book with his heart's blood,”—meaning, I suppose, that it was to be a right excellent Book! Good God! I shall never forget that; it will stick in my memory forevermore.— But why do we mourn? As far as I can gather, she died without pain: she had written three letters on the thursday, and walked (by computation of the time) “as far as would take her to Closeburn Kirk and back again”: Margaret says she had never slept so well before; and bragged of her health, and was in a cheerful joking humour, not many minutes before. The great God is merciful: the stroke could not have been delivered more softly. But that “bonny Dream”— O Jeannie, that and the poor vision of American Placards and Prussian Levees,2 is a thing inexpressibly sorrowful and sweet to me.——— I have set you crying again, I doubt; I did not mean that.

This morning too I had sent for the Widow Steele3 and she came; radiant with thankfulness, understanding that I meant to help her to get the house before it went out of my hand. She had no friend whom she could ask to advance £100 or £120 for her,—otherwise so many wishes would have been gratified! But she hoped to get a lease under the Jardines; I sent her off to Morton Mill, to consult with Hunter as to what could be done and stipulated for her; and I will gladly do that. According to my own proposal to the Duke, I treat charitably, liberally with the new tenant; and it were well to divide our bounty with this poor widow, who perhaps is more an object of charity than the thick-skinned labouring Jardines. I will strive to do the wisest possible.

Last night I wrote to your Uncle; also to Julius Hare. Today to Thomas Erskine &c. I have walked no farther than round by Dalgarnock Churchyard4 yet; but I calculate on a long stretch in the gloaming. I am decidedly getting better in health; pity that my remaining Sabbath days here are so few: they have all been a kind of sabbath, most sad, but solemn, not without a sort of blessedness.

I wrote to my Mother that if she would come this was the week;—or rather I wrote to Jamie and Alick to consider whether such a journey might be advisable in this weather. She does not come, and as yet no word comes.

There is a poor little docked arm-chair standing in the Porch here,—a bit of string tied round the back of it, fastening-on a splinter: that chair shall not be sold; I think of giving it to Jenny. Poor Jenny has but two chairs, one of them a rocking one! She too is one of my troubles at present; unable to form any resolution, and laid under the necessity of forming one. We will try to get that settled also.

Well; tell me then that you have been out in the Sunshine, Cousin Jeannie and you, and that you are good girls! Adieu, dear Wife.— Ever affectionately T. Carlyle