The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO GRACE WELSH AND JWC; 19 April 1827; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18270419-TC-JWCGW-01; CL 4:215-219.


Scotsbrig, Thursday, 19th April [1827]—

My Dear Mother,

Had there been a moment of time left me last night, I would have written to you from Dumfries, and informed you four and twenty hours sooner of the happy issue of our tedious negotiation: but it was towards eleven at night before the higgling ceased and the papers were fairly signed; and then Alick and I had nineteen rough miles to ride, and moreover were afraid of being robbed by rascally Irishmen in the Trench of Lochar Moss,1 for we were carrying money in our pockets.

The two Blacklocks were at their post waiting for us; and after between eight and nine hours of incessant discussion, varying thro' all stages from “an' please your Honour” to “Damn it, Sir!” we settled with them, and they are to travel at Whitsunday first, on what I conceive to be pretty equitable principles for all parties. In the first place, Ready Money Jack (so I named the Enock one, a perfect contrast on all points to his Brother) tabled his 12 five-pound notes, paying up his rent in full till Martinmas last. Next, they are one and all to clear the ground of them at Whitsunday; they being allowed sixty pounds of deduction from the last half year's rent; we also accepting of the Ewes in William's stock (some hundred or so not marketable at this season) on the valuation of Arbitrators. The next point cost us an immensity of debate, and was at last left to the decision of these same Arbitrators also. It was this: whether or not these Blacklocks in case they had staid till the end of their lease, had right to the following crop (that is, to the crop sown by them before Whitsunday, and left to ripen under the inspection of the succeeding tenant; or right only to the seed-corn and labour and grass lost to them by putting it in? We stoutly maintained the latter side, they as stoutly the former; the scrolled Lease (a pitiful enough paper, which neither of us would have signed) threw no light on this point; which accordingly we left to the determination of neutral men, to be guided by the light of nature on the matter, for the Blacklocks had no shred of writing good or bad to show for themselves, in regard to this or any other particular. The proposed Arbitrators were named; William Grahame of Burnswark I expect to be ours, theirs (unless on inquiry we object to him) is one Mr Kennedy of Cowhee or some such place in Penpont; and the Third Person, to be appointed if need be, is James Stewart of Gillamby Rig, in this neighbourhood; a friend of Major Creighton's; slightly known to me also, and in all respects a most unexceptionable Judge. So that, calculating by all appearances both of the people and the cause, I see little room to doubt that the whole will be peaceably and fairly adjusted.

On the whole, I feel much mollified to these Blacklocks: the William one in particular (him of the trees) I absolutely pardoned, nay at one period felt a real pity for. A poor innocent, timid, underfoot body, that could not hurt a fly! He winded and twisted under my accusations; and at last all that could be brought home upon him was that he had little money, little wit, less malice, and was nowise fit for farming Craigenputtock. I declare, my heart warms yet to the poor soul when I think of his long nose and cowering attitude and meek submissive aspect. Nay towards Ready Money Jack himself, tho he shifted first from nothing to a hundred guineas, and then to sixty pounds, I bear no sort of spleen: on the contrary I think him a most stout sufficient fellow (who would have farmed your land well had he resided there himself), and for a Cattle-dealer, honest and direct. We all parted in fair spirits, and fine fellowship, with cordial shaking of hands: your health was drunk in fiery punch, and I upbraided for my Whiggism because I joined not beyond tea-spoonfuls in that noxious beverage. We left them drinking lustily with another man from Closeburn, heedless of the “lang Scots miles”:2 “I was fu' when I got it,” said Jack; “and by——I'se be as fu' when I quut it!”3— The crop business (the only knotty point of the Arbitration) can hardly be more than a matter of £30 or so; and really I think if the judges do not give it against us, we ought almost to give it (or the value of it) against ourselves, that is, in case the Drovers behave themselves; for really they have had a poor year.

And now, my dear Mother, let me congratulate the whole household on this auspicious result, which I hope in God will be good for us all. To me it gives the fairest chance of recovering health, the only thing I want for being the happiest man this sun shines on: my dear wifie's happiness is bound up in mine, and yours in that of us both. To thank you for your care of us would be but useless: the temper of mind it displays was not unexpected but is still infinitely precious to me; and for the present I shall only say that it shall go very hard with me, if you have ever reason to repent of what you did. May God bless us all, and keep us all united in affection and true conduct to the end!— But I must not grow too serious here: besides I am encroaching on poor Goody's sheet, which is but tirling the Kirk to theek the Choir.4 I will not tell you but her when I am coming; but I daresay you will work the secret out of her by and by. I am ever,

Your affectionate Son, /

Thomas Carlyle


To the Wife.

Not unlike what the drop of water from Lazarus' finger might have been to Dives in the flame,5 was my dearest Goody's letter to her Husband yesterday afternoon. Blacklock had retired to the Bank for fifteen minutes; the whirlwind was sleeping for that brief season, and I smoking my pipe in grim repose, when Alick came back with your messenger. No, I do not love you in the least; only a little sympathy and admiration, and a certain esteem; nothing more!— O my dear best wee woman!— But I will not say a word of all this, till I whisper it in your ear with my arms round you.

Such a day I never had in my life; but it is all over and well; and now “Home Brothers! Home!”— I have meditated all this morning whether I could get back on Saturday by gallopping up to Beattock to catch the Mail; but at last I have decided that it will not do. So many things are to settle with all parties; even William Grahame I cannot see till tomorrow evening, and Alick and I have yet agreed, indeed I may say talked, on nothing specific. So I have settled that Jack and I are to ride off to Templand on Monday morning (Jack talks of proceeding farther on a visit to Kirkchrist), and on Tuesday evening I will bring you news! This night I am sending off a letter for that purpose to little Auntie. Grandfather too I may front, now that the whole business is adjusted.

O Jeanie! How happy we shall be in this Craig o' Putto! Not that I look for an Arcadia or a Lubberland there: but we shall sit under our bramble and our saugh-tree [shrubby willow tree] and none to make us afraid; and my little wife will be there forever beside me, and I shall be well and blessed, and the latter end of that man will be better than the beginning. Surely I shall learn at length to prize the pearl of great price which God has given to me unworthy; surely I already know that to me the richest treasure of this sublunary life has been awarded, the heart of my own noble Jane! Shame on me for complaining, sick and wretched tho' I be! Bourbon and Braganza,6 when I think of it, are but poor men to me. O Jeanie, O my Wife, we will never part; never thro' Eternity itself! But I will love thee and keep thee in my heart of hearts!— That is, unless, I grow a very great fool—which indeed this talk doth somewhat betoken.

For thou seest, Goody, I am at the bottom of my paper, and there is no room for any sentiment whatever. Well, I come on Tuesday night and tell you all. The Kettle will be sighing wistfully on the brazen winter,7 and tea of choicest flavour, and kisses sweeter than ambrosia will greet my arrival! Unless—the coach be full! But do not let this disturb you! I will come next night; and that is “all the same”:8 is it not? No nothing like the same Sir!— Be good bairns till my arrival. Let the needlework be ready: Would I were there to see it! God bless thee! Ever Ever thine, T. Carlyle—

Jack is dunning me fiercely to get ready for drinking tea with Dr Arnot,9 my neighbour, the Doctor that got Napoleon's snuff-box; a man whom you and mother may see soon, and both like.—Alas!

Alas! Poor Gilbert Burns!10 Are not our houses built on ice?— My Mother has come up with best wishes from all and sundry.—