January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 28 September 1830; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18300928-TC-MAC-01; CL 5:166-169.


Craigenputtoch, Tuesday [28 September 1830]—

My Dear Mother,

Jean, who with Alick is about setting out eastward, insists that I shall write you a few lines for her to carry down. This seems a wonderful arrangement, when Couriers are passing so rife (for instance, Rob Haining1 yesterday), and all manner of news can be learned by verbal questioning: however, being assured that it will yield you some satisfaction, I willingly comply.

You would learn from Jamie not only that Jean and I arrived safe behind Larry; but farther that the other Jeannie and I were down at Dumfries by the same conveyance; having bartered Harry on that occasion, who however as we have since ascertained is both able and willing to draw the gig himself. We expect to have him down at Scotsbrig, in that way, perhaps more than once during the course of winter.

That night, after looking at all the huge Bullocks and strange human Creatures assembled in Dumfries, Jane and I were mounted and on the way home sometime before eight o'clock: nevertheless, as has been said, ‘you know where you begin the ride, not where you end it’; accordingly we had not got the length of Ichabod's,2 where our Dunscore Road turns off the great Mail Road, when I half jesting proposed that we should rather drive to Templand, the way being shorter, and smoother for a drive in the dark, and my helpmate having agreed to be there, at any rate, before the end of the week. Assent was readily given (three several times) to this proposal: so away we went for Templand; where Larry, in the most handsome manner, landed us quite comfortably about ten o'clock. Mrs Welsh, after her first terror, was overjoyed to all lengths; made us porridge ‘with her own hands,’3 clipt my hair next day, and having asked some person to dine with us, would not without a quarrel let us go that day, or till after breakfast on the following. Her Father is very frail; otherwise things seem much in their old state. I do not think she has yet stirred at all in the Craigenputtoch business: neither, as it appears to me, has she the smallest wish to part with Alick, if he could make her any reasonable proposal. However, she is a person I cannot speak with in regard to such affairs. Alick, I think, ought to make up his own mind, as soon as he can, and say or at least guess what is in his power, and what not.

You would hear that the Jeffreys had come and gone: they arrived that very monday night, and I found them all sitting in state, when I got here. Jeffrey was more than usually friendly and interesting; he left us, and we were left, with real regret. Jane found your butter and eggs of essential service; and on the whole gives many thanks both to Providence (who watches the fall of sparrows)4 and to fellow men. Bretton waited like the steward of some Royal Hotel (the slut is really admirable at waiting);5 the Cook cooked to a very hairsbreadth: so that Jane says gratefully, ‘she was borne thro' with an honourable through-bearing.’6 I rather think, Jeffrey will come himself next year (if we are all well), and leave his women; which will be a much more commodious method.— He insisted on taking my unfortunate Manuscript (of German Literary History) with him to Edinr, that he might read it, and see whether he could not find a Publisher for it: I expect to hear some tidings about this very soon; but hardly that he will be successful; indeed, now that I have made up my mind, I care next to nothing whether or not. He has already written to Jack (whom he seemed to like well) about one Hazlitt, an unfortunate literary man, whom Jack seemed to be attending as Doctor; to whom Jeffrey was sending money, but who, as I see by a mark in the last Examiner, is now dead; so that the charitable aid would come too late.— The worthy Dean of Faculty (for that is our Duke's title) inquired about you all, very kindly, not of me but of Jane: I reckon him one of the best persons, practically considered, that I have ever seen; also that he is growing ‘sadder and wiser’7 as he increases in years.

I have neither time nor paper, and must hurry to a close. Jane has written you the ‘Poem about the Clock,’ and two others;8 all of which, I doubt, are perfect Duds. I am continuing to scribble little things (at present, in Prose); perhaps for that Magazine; perhaps for a sore foot, and at any rate to clear my hand of them. Ere long I hope to betake myself to my Book, and do something worthier.

We have no farther word from Jack, except the regular Newspaper: I partly look for a Letter next week; I will send you notice of it as soon after as I have opportunity.— Meanwhile, my Dear Mother, let me repeat Jack's advice to my Father and you: to take care of yourselves, at this horrid season of the year, so threatening every way, so unwholesome for all weakly people. Take care of yourself, my Dear Mother; and take care of the Goodman also, who has less skill in these things. With best love to him and every one of you, I remain always My Dear Mother's—affe Son,

T. Carlyle—

I wrote to Jack about Mary's illness, and advised him to say something to her directly. I think he will address his Letter hither.—

The Knockhill Butler9 has got a trial, as you would see; and, according to all appearance, has been pretty fairly dealt with; perhaps a little too mildly, but he has got himself frightened and disgraced, which itself is severe.

Has my Father done his affair with Underwood;10 or is there anything I could do in furtherance of it?