The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 30 October 1827; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18271030-TC-AC-01; CL 4:273-275.


21 Comley Bank, 30th October 1827.

My Dear Alick——I received your Letter this morning, and must not disappoint you of an answer, though it be a brief one. I am as usual in violent haste, being busied with that scribble for the London people,1 and in some danger of being belated.

To proceed to business then. Jane and I are of opinion that if the floor of that little backroom, which is or was to be yours, be considered sufficient as it now stands flagged, you should let it stand so: but if, as we partly suppose, the flags of it are all broken, and it will require to be renewed at any rate, then we think, considering the small difference of price, a wooden floor will be decidedly preferable. With regard again to the mantel-piece of the room which is now kitchen and is to be dining-room, I recollect speaking once to our Uncle on the subject; and if I mistake not, he said that a mantel-piece of black marble might, in his opinion, if cunningly bought, be procured for some five pounds. If he can get such a thing anywhere about that price, by all means take it. If it cannot be got for six pounds, on the other hand, we think it would hardly be worth while. Tell our worthy Architect this; and do you and he exercise your best judgment on the matter. As to the width and other dimensions of the thing, our Uncle will just follow the common standard; for the grate to go there is yet to purchase (a sort of polished-bar grate, I expect, with hobs); the grates we have here being destined, the larger one for the drawing-room, and the smaller for the Library. The larger is the one you saw with fire in it; the smaller at present stands upstairs. …

This is all I can think of about that House in the Moor, at present; only further, with repetition and re-repetition, will you beg the Architect to look strictly on all hands against my two old enemies, Reek and Damp! I hope the new kitchen does not smoke: if it do, it must be cured, can man's wit do it. Are they putting up the spout this winter? I think the sooner the better. And trying, if possible, to regulate that foundation, which must somehow or other be prolonged a few inches deeper into the ground? But enough for once!

What a hubbub and a hurlyburly you must all be in, and poor Mary lying ill of cold! I hope the poor lassie is better, or even well. Salts are the best recipe; and care against wet feet. She must not get sick over winter in that wilderness.— Have you got any new light on the road? By all means, make every effort: it is indeed an indispensable business.— In fine, let us hope that this Craig will repay us all for the trouble we are at with it; and be a sort of covert from the rude weather, let it blow from what point it will! Were we once there and settled! For change, of any sort, totally deranges one: be the place and the state what it may, if the wise man is once there and fixed, he will fit it to him or himself to it; but of this wayfaring work comes no good.

I wish you could have written to me that our Father is recovered: I have my own doubts; and long for some word, which however, so stingy are the Scotsbrig penmen, I have little hope of getting except through you. Write to me the moment you can learn.— It was a relief to me to learn that your crop was under thatch: in my ignorance, I was pitying you and Scotsbrig in that spongy weather, which is now, however, as good as gone, I hope.

We are glad to hear that R[achel] saw the Craig, and think it a favourable circumstance. Jane thinks she must be a “bit of a flirt (coquette) that R.”; and advises you, as the best remedy, to stand aloof rather, and let her be for a time. I rather believe this a wholesome advice; and worthy of attention, coming from so experienced a source.2 One way or other, I trust, all will be well. So be it!

I have written an immense letter to the Doctor: by this time it is on the German Ocean I suppose; an answer may be back in three weeks or so, not sooner.— Not another syllable about London: I saw Jeffrey at large; and he thinks with me that it may stand over for a good while.— You will write soon?— Jane's best regards to you and Mary.— I am ever your Brother,

T. Carlyle.