January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 17 April 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420417-TC-JWC-01; CL 14: 149-151


Scotsbrig, Sunday 17 April / 1842—

My dear good Wife,—They are all off to “the Preaching,” and have left me quiet here; I may as well write you a word at my leisure, before going out into the silent sunshine on the moor. The Cock (sorrow to all cocks!) awoke me this morning at six; so I am not very well: but they are to confine him for the future, and by the grace of the country and the season, I shall be at the old mark again or beyond it, before long.— Our unfortunate Craigenputtoch shower-bath too, even that is now to do me service again. It stood uninjured in the peat-house at Templand; nobody would offer money for it at the Sale: I have found a closet here for it, and hope to have a right swash, and my skin made clean by it, on Wednesday morning and the following ones!— Jamie too thinks he can borrow me a tolerable horse. I shall await “the Duke's permission” with as much composure as I can, perhaps not without profit even. This however, this of the Duke, is all along the most questionable point with me, and I still look for its misgoing;—tho' probably that is but the effect of biliary humour in myself. But to be ready either way! I mean to see James Stewart,1 and learn authentically what it is the Duke can do, doing his worst. I have determined to be quit of Templand, and hear of it no more at any rate. The whole matter at issue therefore, I fancy, is some net sum of money, viz. £100; that is all I can lose,—and my quiet shall not go along with that. It is not indispensable for me, as I have felt always, and occasionally said, to make out of Templand a few pounds of money more or less; but it is important and indispensable that I do nothing irrational, dishonourable, ungenerous or improper there; but end the business in the spirit in which it was always carried on by those who have now no representative but me. This we shall endeavour after: their Duke too ought to endeavour after it (at least not to endeavour the other way), and perhaps will,—but we must be ready to let him take his choice withal. No more of him, the poor harmless Duke, who, when I think of it, has himself yet done nothing; but has been made a hateful bugbear of, to my imagination, by the poor people that worship him there for a livelihood! Perhaps it is an excellent Duke: we shall see.

Among the things forgotten yesterday was, to tell you that, in passing up to Crawford near the end of the hamlet, I saw Peggy M'Queen spreading clothes upon a stone dike by the way side, and called to her, tho' I saw she wished rather to avoid me. Poor numb Peggy! She was in waiting for me as I returned; got into the gig at my request, and accompanied me as far as Elvanfoot.2 She gave me some details, which tho' indistinct I will treasure up for you. She had arrived a few minutes before the first shock, which occurred unexpectedly some three weeks before the last, and of which we never heard: it was her express order not to have it spoken of at all. Margaret in the gig described the situation to me. This, my poor Jeannie, will again smite sharply against your heart: your dear Mother, when seized with what she herself took to be death, said as she sank down on the chair: “Peggy I am dying— O my poor Jeannie!”— She had spoken of you too that last night while she walked so long: “Well, I think if I had a room 30 feet long, and Jeannie to walk beside me!” The poor Mother! Generous affection dwelt in that heart to its final pulse; her last feeling in this earth was of Love and Hope. She is gone to God, who made her and made us; may we follow in the like spirit!— I again make you weep, my poor Wife, whom I would save from all weeping if I could; but they are not bitter tears those; they are soft and sanative.

Poor Harriett Martineau seems to me, from her Letter that you sent, to be very ill and miserable. If I knew in what style to address that true heart, true tho' hedged in with so many limitations to me unmanageable, I would write to her again one of these days. Poor Harriett: I fear she too is dying!3 We shall not readily look upon her like again.— Why should I end so sadly! I will end in hope: hope to see my poor Jeannie soon again, and to be worthier of her for all these sorrows. God keep thee, Dearest! T.C.