January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 16 April 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420416-TC-JWC-01; CL 14: 147-149


Scotsbrig, Saturday, 16 April, 1842—

My Dearest,—Here in this old garret of Isabella's, but with quiet round me and the pure sunshine sleeping on Burnswark, I can again write you a word. We got here, Jamie and I, leaving Alick at Ecclefechan, past eleven last night; with our utmost dispatch we could not get the ruined Templand locked, or made ready for locking, till three in the afternoon. I left the key with Margaret; the Auctioneer residues and unfinishable tagrags with Dr Russell till my return,—for I must again return whenever “the Duke's permission” to close Jardine's bargain finally arrives: a few hours will then be sufficient for terminating all things;—and probably I shall be in no haste to revisit that country! Margaret wept as I shook hands with her among the straw of Templand kitchen; I myself was not far from tears: in my whole life I have seen no wretcheder scene of pain and sorrow, and the final cataract of all confusions and distresses to heart, to soul and to body. I have now got a sleep; the first for four nights: my head is full of dull pain, with all the etceteras of such a situation; but I am quiet now, I shall of course get round again, and be wholly myself, very speedily here.

For two things, dear Wife, I will thank God: first that the horrible “roup” [sale] is all over; secondly that thou wert not there, or near it; I think it would have broken thy heart. It is, as I say, a second death, on the broader scale: the spirit that had presided over Templand house and made it lovely and kindly was gone far away, and so the house had to fall into nameless wreck of dissolution too. How beautiful, sweet in its very sternness of sorrow, still and pure as Eternity, was Crawford Churchyard, compared with what met me on my return! But no more of it: God be thanked, it is done; and no such scene we hope lies again before us in this world.——— The things had sold what they called “tolerably,”—which I think may well be defined as rather ill: the gross produce of all things, and of such tumult in dispersing them, was some £70; which, deducting the expenses and accidents, will perhaps net in all £60! My regret sometimes was that I had not gathered all the things together; given away whatsoever could have been desirable to any friend of hers or of ours, and left the remainder to the Minister and Kirk Session for the Poor, or burnt it on the hilltop with pure fire. But that too was not the right way. Things sold as they could; the country was extensively gathered together, nothing was mismanaged, we took the chance of the country (in great money-distress at present), and realised this. The rubbish, they say, sold best; things of any value seem to have gone at perhaps the third part of their real worth, at perhaps the tenth of their original cost. No matter, really none at all. Had the money produced been twenty pounds more they would have called it a really good sale; producing twice as much it would have been a miraculously excellent sale: and yet what better had we been? The confusion, the desperate chaotic horror of the thing to one's heart had been all the same. Thank God it is done.

The old chairs are saved, nobody offered for them what I had fixed on (I am right glad of it); the sofa, which I did not like, is off. The old table of the green room toilette is bought for Jenny, and goes to Gill. Mrs Black did not buy the cow, and stopped bidding at a very low value indeed: Jamie had guessed the beast at £10, or allowing for Peel's-tariff and the cattle-panic here,1 at £8; Mrs B. stopt at £6; the cow was bought by Alick at £7.8. It was Jamie's opinion that Mrs B. had wanted to get a gift of the animal; she behaved, according to his notions, rather unpleasantly and in no friendly spirit during the course of the sale. Alick offered her the cow; but she would not hear of it.— The original old oven of the Kitchen was sold, at the half-price of old iron, to a scoundrel who had neither money nor credit: it is coming here to Scotsbrig,—which also I am glad of. They have bought about a cartload of insignificant things, Alick and Jamie, for themselves and for Jenny: Jamie Austin is to go and fetch them on Monday.

For London the chosen articles lie packed in 18 large masses: your Uncle warning the railway man at Liverpool, as proper precautions too are taken at the Steamer on the Dumfries side, they have a good chance to arrive safe. They are in general, I imagine, well packed; tho' everything is scattered thro' every other in a most chaotic way (pieces of one article here, small iron pieces &c, I mean, and others there), yet I think there is little or nothing absolutely lost. The hardware things or rather the iron and metal things are all in one little barrel, scuttle, kettle, jelly-pan &c; the glass and china are in two little boxes, packed with M'C's2 best skill, and new-roped by us on friday. All, in short, is as well as we could make it. The Carriers (two to be sent by the Steamer people from Dumfries) take them away on Thursday next, on Friday morning they are shipped, this day week they are at Liverpool; and I suppose may reach Chelsea in some 3 days more.

The Bargain with the Jardines I got, by dint of high-pressure energy, reduced to the state I wanted it in; namely ready for closing in an instant, were “the Duke's permission” once here. The Duke does not write. I left a Letter with Russel (to be sent off today, in case no Duke's answer arrived) urging him to do it. They all say it is safe; I wish it may prove so,—safe and speedy!

To Margaret I gave 3 guineas with which she seemed well content: your Uncle had already given her a similar sum, as present or vails (this I understood from Russell); many small etceteras fell to her share at last; and we parted, as I told you, in tears. She is a good creature, and full of talent as a servant. I design still to give her another sovereign: but it will be as a gift to her two little girls at parting,—with wages I liked to be somewhat nearer to exactness, as we may happen to have more of them to pay this woman. Her wages are some 4 guineas a half-year; or rather used to be, for she means not to hire again in that quarter, but “at London or Liverpool!—”

The Monster Wm Grahame, absent all this while at Glasgow, pounces upon me here and now with his old exactness! I can add no more tonight. I will try to get you another word sent tomorrow or else next day. Do not thou, my poor Jeannie, afflict thyself writing daily to me; take it easier,—a sick day can be omitted now. That poor head: Heaven send it were well,—and the heart it belongs to! Blessings on both Jeannies. Ever your affectionate, T. Carlyle

John, as you perhaps know, is over to France; to Havre where they mean to spend the summer: he has to be back in London first however,—if I mistake not. The weather here is now cold enough; except with warm clothes and swift walking.

The poor little black desk has been mine all along, and is packed even now into my trunk among the Scotsbrig goods at Templand. a little white teapot is in,—may it be safe.