The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE, THE ELDER; 27 March 1827; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18270300-TC-JCE-01; CL 4:195-197.


21. Comley Bank, Tuesday [late March 1827]—

My Dear Father,

I need not say how gratified I was to see your handwriting, after so long an interval, and communicating such pleasing intelligence as your little letter1 brought us. Let us all be thankful that we are still spared in the land of the living,2 to be a comfort to one another, in our pilgrimage, where so many, perhaps more deserving than we, are left desolate and friendless! While we are preserved in health and peace, and food and raiment convenient for us is provided, with kind friends to love us and be loved, what more have we to ask?

I should have a long string of news to send you, for it is a great while (too great, had I not been so busy and uncertain) since I wrote: but by this time, as I calculate, Jack must be in the midst of you, explaining every thing by word of mouth much more satisfactorily than it could be done by pen and paper. To his tidings I have only to add, bringing them down some thirty hours later that we are still all well, and going on exactly in the same style. He will have told you of a notable project we have formed of coming down to live in Dumfriesshire by and by; not frightened by the wildness of the Dunscore moors, but preferring the free life of the country, on any terms, to the cage-like existence of the city, even here on its outskirts. Both Jane and I are very fond of the project; and if Alick dare venture going with us, I think the whole affair may be most beautifully adjusted. Jack we would set up as a Doctor in Dumfries; the rest of us would farm, and write, and labour each in his sphere; peaceable and well, and living almost in sight of one another, at least (allowing fleet horses) within half a day's riding of each other. If all this take effect, I shall have cause to bless this application of the London Booksellers to me as one of the most providential occurrences in my life. For tho' not positively ill in this place, I can rationally entertain very little hope of ever getting completely well; and Pain, however one may learn to bear it quietly, is no such desirable companion that one should not long in any honest way to be rid of it. I am waiting, with considerable hope, to hear more definitely from these London men,3 to consult the Landlady of Craigenputtoc[h], and settle a great many other et-cetereas, in preparation for this enterprise. The whole, I think, looks pretty fairish, as Keevil4 says: but so soon as anything definite is done, you shall hear from me again.

Meanwhile it is comfortable to think that we are all going on so tolerably, even without any change. Happy that you are now free of General Sharpe, and independent of all men! The gallant General has poured out the whole vials of his wrath, and this same whole amounts to very little. For my own share, I have only to pray that Heaven would be kind to both him and me, and give us both some increase to our little fraction of wisdom, which, in the one case as in the other, does really seem too small.

I expect from Jack a long narrative of all that is going on at Scotsbrig; of your ploughing and your sowing; the sheds you are to build, and the whole import of your proceedings there. The CornBill,5 it would seem, is to do you no ill; and certainly taking one thing with another, there is every reason to hope, that henceforth you will get along as comfortably in that concern, as you have done in any other. With myself too, I am confident the worst is past, let things turn as they may. My little wife truly loves me, and will be happy sharing any fortune at my side; a blessing, when I consider it, which may pass almost for the half of the whole matter of life; and certainly without which no comfortable life would be possible. She thanks you for your blessing, and returns it with hearty sincerity. By and by I hope we shall all be acquainted, and united, and far happier than we could ever have expected.— My paper is done: my truest Love to all from Alick to Jenny!— I remain,

My Dear Father, / Your affectionate Son, /

T. Carlyle—