January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 16 February 1830; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18300216-TC-MAC-01; CL 5:75-77.


Craigenputtoch, Tuesday Night [16 February 1830]—

My Dear Mother,

I here send you a fresh Letter from the Doctor,1 which tho' rather of a baffled aspect I reckon more satisfactory than the most we have got from him of late. Tho' hard bested, disappointed as to Warwick, and in straits about what he is to do, our Doctor seems actually to be awake at last, to be bestirring himself, and disposed to make a shift, which shift, were it once fairly set about, I have no doubt will prove in some degree successful. I answered Jack almost by return of Post in an encouraging key, told him that a struggle was unavoidable at starting anywhere; that he had done nothing to exclude him from Dumfries, where I was convinced he might still be successful; but withal advising him to try Birmingham rather than any other English town. We have since had a newspaper, signifying that he was “quite well,” and had received the Letter: it is probable that we may hear more of his motions ere long, and of course you will get notice by the first opportunity. I rather conjecture, he will try Birmingham.

As for us up here, we are all astir, in spite of the frosts and snows; and trying to keep Necessity at the Staff's end. I get on with my Book, tho' slowly, and am making all exertions to have the first Volume published in May. Surely I will get down to see you, if the weather were better: neither shall I be so tossed to and fro, and disappointed in my work, another year as I have been this. But let us not complain. We have many mercies; and it is and remains an everlasting Truth, that our “Father knoweth how to give us good gifts.”2 O it is only the dark wicked heart within us that needs improvement: this Universe and our Existence in it were “very good” could we only be so. He only is to be pitied that does not know this; or knowing it, cannot work daily and hourly in the heart-belief of it.

We had hoped to see you here, had the Frost not intervened: but Elliot came alone, and no Mother was with him. Tell us again when you can come, and I will send him down for you, at any time; he is not so busy. Thank Jane for her Letters, which were highly welcome to us all: if she would, from time to time, continue to do the like, it would be a great comfort to us here.

I am to express our obligations for quite another sort of article, the Beef, namely; which we have roasted, and stewed, and otherwise disposed of to proper purpose. It will be long, I doubt, before we have any Mart [fattened cow or ox] here to pay you with in kind.

Mention to Jamie that the meal came safely, and is of very good quality; quite a dainty compared with the horrible stuff made here. I have given Alick money to pay him with tomorrow; and hope now to clear scores with all my debtors, however little they leave me. It is a dreadful thing to be in debt: but I have forced these London gentlemen to pay me Fifty Pounds; and had I out my ‘first volume,’ I shall be richer than the King! So let us keep up our heart, and struggle on at the work cut out for us: there is no other resource.

I once thought I should be obliged to go to Edinburgh for Books to help me thro' this enterprize: but trust it will not be necessary now. Let me rather hope, my first journey may be to Scotsbrig. I would come instantly, had I any work lying behind to keep me in spirits. Jane and Mary talk of coming down: they are even speculating (I suppose, in jest) about riding to Poldean, in quest of that woman Smeal;3 for we are to need a new Maid at Whitsunday, and know not yet where to find one. They rather doubt Smeal would be too reckless, and brainging [slapdash].

I must break off here, and again beg you to take this poor rag of a Letter in lieu of a better one. Jamie will give us word tomorrow how you all are; especially how you and my Father are: the rest, except Mag, are stout subjects, and we can better fancy them well. I am in great haste, having other Letters to write tonight. Give my true love to all: make Jane or Mag write. Why do they not write? I am sure they daily think of us, as we do of you. Good night, my Dear Mother! I could write volumes, and yet say but a fraction of what I meant.

I am ever your affectionate Son, /

T. Carlyle.

Jamie Aitken, we hear, continues to recover: his youngest Sister has also had the fever! She too is recovering. They are going to keep their house; at least for the present.— John Aitken, it seems, has written for Margaret M'Kinnow (Hawick) to come and stay with him: but there was no answer last week.— Good night! Good Night! And all Good!——