The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 11 December 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18511211-TC-JAC-01; CL 26: 263-265


Chelsea, 11 decr, 1851—

My dear Brother,

Yesterday morning I had your welcome Note; just about the same time one from me wd reach you, along with the belated Newspapers. Jamie's Herald goes at length today, having arrived last night.— I am very thankful for your news; tho' it is sad, in my solitude, to think of my poor good Mother confined now mostly to bed, as the safest place for her! But what can we say? After all, I suppose it is fairly the best she can make of it; and she does, loyally always, and with cheerful readiness, the thing she must do;—a right brave example for us all, now as heretofore, the good old Mother! That you are there, with Margt Austin to assist, is a most comfortable circumstance for me.

I have been often thinking of Adamson's Letter, and the some answer1 that must be given:—all answers are so extremely foreign to my present form of industries here! It is chiefly with an eye to that that I have now taken this roomy sheet (excellent paper too,—thanks to the useful Chorley!) for the purpose of throwing down some hasty statement of my notions to you on the subject,—to you, by way of preliminary.

I think, in the first place, Jamie ought to go;2 and look his best, not at the houses only, but at the general condition of the grounds and of Macqueen's management, also to inform himself about this new Macqueen's general substantiality or the contrary; and, on the whole, to make up his mind the best he can as to whether there is really any considerable chance to get a better offer, after advertising, than Mn now presents before and without such trouble.— Beyond doubt, £20 additional per year are not to be despised: but at the same time, change of any kind is an evil; and if this man pays his rent and is like to do so, and behave well, giving no trouble, he might prove far preferable to another offering higher, and performing very differently. Let Jamie guess what the farm is really worth, as things go;—and on the whole let him decide, as if for himself, whether we are to take Macqueen witht further advertising, or to make an attempt for a better? You and he and Adamson (to whom I will write authorising you, so soon as you permit) will surely be able to do better in it, than anything I here cd devise by way of result.

As to the House, I have often thot how welcome such a place might be to me by way of shelter for a month in the summer now and then; but practically the difficulties of keeping it open are, I fear I must admit for my own part, insuperable. Jane does not like it, never did; and to me either it was never lovely, it was only safe and solitary! On your side I perceive there is transiently some vague look, analogous to my own, in that direction? I can only say, If there is any arrangement you could form whereby my Mother or yourself could get any good of that poor Mansion, I should be only too happy to comply and cooperate in all rational ways! But I fear there will practically turn out to be none;—and whether, in the fine season of the year, our poor Mother could do any good there by way of variety (retaining her Scotsbrig establisht, of course); or whether it wd not at all times be too solitary and dull for her, even with you there? These are questions which I cannot answer here, but which must be well considered before anything is done.— I know only it used to be a capital place for getting work accomplished! Fully twice as much, of reading or other labour, was possible for me there within a given time as I have ever got managed here.— On the whole, in this too, you must judge what possibilities there are. For my own particular behoof, and on my own resources, I can make nothing of the House except give it in charge to the farmer of the place: that, after all my speculatings, is the conclusion I have reluctantly had to come to.

Pray let Jamie, therefore, address himself to this as soon as convenient for him; and do you consider what you can without very much bother do for me in it. I will then write finally to Adamson, appointing a meeting (if you think well of that), and so have the matter settled one way or other. Some kind of prefigurement, to that or another effect, I must write to him one of these days (not till after hearing from you again), for I have otherwise a Letter to send him, about money that will be needed.— I think you have here some outline of what my notion of the business is; and so I will leave it with you for this time.

On Saturday, it appears, I am to go to The Grange,—with Lord An who is hereabouts just now. A quantity of people are going; none of them very interesting to me; some of them decidedly the reverse! You shall hear a little how we get on: directly after Christs, perhaps the very next day, it is to end. Poor Jane writes to me this morning that they are all three (Lady An, her Mother and Jane) somewhat on the invalid list,—poor Jane had a whole day of headache, and was “excellently well let alone” she says! She is now better again, and the rest too have got out of their rooms. Our weather here is decidedly fine; warm and clammy in general, but today and yesterday much drier and even with sun in force.— — Poor Louis Blanc had run over to Paris to superintend; and was laid hold of, poor little wretch, and now lies in limbo: that is the only additl news.3 I am very busy still on Fk the Great and his Battles.— Take care of my Mother! Has she anything good to read? My blessings on her and on you all. Ever your affe

T. Carlyle