January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 7 April 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420407-TC-JWC-01; CL 14: 127-129


Templand, 7 April 1842 (Thursday)

My Dearest,— Alas, I can see you are ill again by today's Letter; sleepless, and your feelings all set on edge. I wish you had not troubled yourself with the List till next day (which would have corresponded to tomorrow), for there was still time then. Your feeling about Alick is very natural; and shall by me be conformed to. There were sad confusions that arose out of that originally confused business,—stern Necessity, and the weakness and dimness that cleaves to human nature, pressing upon us all.1 Alick this very day was remarking how generous and noble a heart was hers, which her sensitive delicacies, and her inexperience of any way of life but her own, so often frustrated in the operation. Alas, he too had faults and has,—and yet intrinsically a Human Soul not without virtues and the aim towards good is working there also, in that imprisonment, not yet made free by Death! He shall have nothing that was hers; I can make the poor man a gift in some other way. The Cottars Saturday Night shall come to London; that and the poor old Desk also. I have instructed him to buy back again at the Sale a chair or two for Jenny. If I find nothing suitable for Jean (but I still think I shall), it can be as you say transacted from Chelsea.— My Dearest, do not fret your poor heart with remorse in that way! True, none of us can say that we have done what we should or could, now when it is never to be amended more, and dark impassable barriers shut it all in: but your affection was a thing she never doubted of, or had cause to doubt of; you may well think she does look down with pity on our imperfections,—alas what is it all but imperfection?—but it is not true that you have cause to accuse yourself. Do not accuse yourself, for it is not just. Nay, were it just, what nobler amendment than, for her sake, to determine on better conduct towards those that still live? Turn to the future and the present; my Darling the past is not criminal in you, and the past is forever away from us all.—

I can find no footwarmer here, nor has Margaret ever heard of one; she used to take a common stone jar, in those latter days, and made use of that. Neither is there yet anything of the nature of a knife-sharpener that Margaret knows. We shall be on the outlook for that and for all things when the packing days arrive,—with the beginning of next week.

My Mother is now here, as perhaps you already conjecture. Alick arrived with her, thro' Dumfries, last night about nine o'clock. Jamie is too busy with his sowing to come or even to spare a horse; they had to hire a horse up. I have consulted along with Alick about all manner of Roup [sale] arrangements: he, in defect of Jamie, with probably Jamie Aitken will come and assist in the packing and multiplex &c's: I never, or hardly ever before in my life, saw so many things crowding on me for decision, I totally ignorant of the nature of them, as now lie in store for these few days. One way or other the days will be got done: when once one is thoroughly awake, all manner of things go on better than expectation.——— The Dumfries Packer cannot come, it seems, after all: he “has a ship to discharge”; he is grown weak and useless at any rate, they say. I am going this Night to ask a question or two of M'Caig, and then to write to Jamie Aitken (if I can) in conformity thereto. For there is another Packer, whom Jie recommends: perhaps M'Caig himself will be able to do about as well: at any rate, he can help me to guess, what time, mats, cord &c &c. I then go on to Morton Mill: there wants a man called “judge of the Sale”; he is to be the man. Why do I trouble my poor Jeannie with all that?

My Mother and Alick, coming in while I sat deep engaged in reading, at such an hour, flurried me all to pieces; I was unwell at any rate, and had decided on a supper of punch: I awoke this morning at five. Alick went away this same afternoon at one o'clock,—three hours ago; for we have dined now (Mother and I) since I began writing to you. She is full of mournful solemn reflexions, poor old woman, about “the last time she was here”: she will be very quiet beside me, if once I had her broken in: on Monday she will go down to Dumfries again.— All this, however, must excuse the confusion of such a Letter as this.

Good old Mr Dobbie called, just about the time Alick was going away. He had seen my Mother, or she him, I think, about Annan. We were all as usual much pleased with his courteous rusticity and wise simplicity; a thoroughly honest-looking character. His Daugh[t]er2 (which was right) has not begun old Mary's pension, till I go away, and she have no more abode here.

The meat-roaster has been a capital article; but Margaret describes it as much gone: I see nothing wrong but some of the tinning gone: I will bring it at any rate. The old chairs again give me pause,—the freightage, then carriage, the package &c: I myself love the old chairs: I will do my best.

There seemed a look of rain today; but it has now brightened out again. Strange that you have nothing still but nipping bitterness. I shall never expect any good till I hear you have got out.— Yes, my dear Wifie, get your warm pan again; and get a sleep next night! It is a frightful aggravation of all one's miseries of mind or heart to be so wretchedly sick of body.

Adieu. Love to Cousin Jeannie. My blessings on you always.

Ever your affectionate /

T. Carlyle