January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 11 September 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310911-JWC-TC-01; CL 5:422-424.


Templand—Sunday [11 September 1831]

Dearest Love

I found four letters at Thornhill yesterday one from Sam Aitken, one from Mr Donaldson one from Alick (as had been arranged at part[in]g) enclosing the Bill for John, and one from my own darling Good. Thine Dearest frightened me—addressed in thy own hand— Was Jeffrey ill as the newspapers are reporting? or were you quarreled with him as you seemed in the road to do? Neither thank God Only the poor old wax doll getting its crown put on—but it saddened me also and that impression is scarce worn off yet.1 It was not the bugs alone which to say the truth “gave me a sort of shock”—it was the tone of the whole letter—the effort to be cheerful which I perceived in it and which perhaps none but I who know you so well would have perceived. You were not ‘happy’— And I not with you! No Goody to kiss you into good humour, or if that were found impossible to bear you company in ill humour. I thought of you and dreamt of you all night in your solitary ‘manger,’ and shall have no peace till we are reunited— I will make you up a bed on the drawing-room floor, and sleep on it beside you (better than I have done of late in our own fine red one) if there be no other way of escaping vermin. So be of good heart and defy this new temptation of the Devil— One has always a tossing and tumbling for a while in every new situation. The business is to ascertain what situation is the fittest—and then set a stout heart to a steep brae2— At Craigenputtoch we have always had a secret suspicion that we were quite wrong—removed out of the sphere of human activity fully as much thro' cowardice as superior wisdom—(am I not right in regard to you as well as myself) and thus all our doings are without heart and our sufferings without dignity— With a goal before me I feel I could leap sixbar gates—but how dispiriting tethered on a barren heath—running round and round— Yet let it not be forgotten that at Craigenputtoch you have written Teufe[l]sdreck—yes the candle sometimes burns its way thro' the bushel—but what a waste of light!

Nevertheless I am taking all possible pains to preserve the poor Putta in habitable order for no more than you would I renounce it[.] It is a safe haven (tho but a desert island) in stress of weather— Harry and Nooly are both to come here— My Mother will give Harry bits of bread and Grace Cavens will take charge of ‘her’ exclusively— Jane and I were both of opinion that ‘she’ would do best here— At Scotsbrig they were not caring to have her—and Alick seemed as little caring to keep her—on the same grounds I suppose that I was unwilling to leave her with him—first that Jenny would not have managed her properly and secondly that she would have been a perpetual bone of contention between her and Betty who could not have endured to see ‘her’ in beesht's place—who indeed implored me with streaming eyes “not on no account to leave the coo with her (Betty) who would be no longer able to protect it[—]” As my Mother is in great want of a good cow her being sent here will have a less ungracious appearance (to Alick and Jenny—[)] than if she went to Scotsbrig simply to be out of their hands. And I have no fear of her being neglected or mismanaged with Grace.

I wrote to Sam and my Uncle3 on Thursday[.] Sam's answer throws little new light on the matter—but confirms me in what I supposed that Leith4 were out of the question— Things are charged in the smacks by bulk not weight except in cases of lead or iron—

A chest of drawers full—might cost he thinks about twelve shillings but then the carriage from Dumfries to Leith is eightpence a stone—from here to Edinr 6d—whereas from Dumfries to Liverpool it is 9/ a ton and no restriction on passengers luggage— Accordingly without waiting for my Uncles answer I have decided on Liverpool— My Mother is getting some meal made—there is none ready yet at Scotsbrig— But I think it is as good here. How very careless you think me—that I would not write to your Mother without always needing to be bid—

I was seriou[s]ly afraid when I last wrote that I was going to be laid up with some fever or other violent disorder—no safe quantity of paregoric did me either ill or good—and one of my cheeks (not the diseased one) was frightfully swelled— But since I came here I have had some sleep and the throbbing of my heart and head is somewhat stilled— I shall weather it thro'—and then I shall be well—the change of air always makes me healthy for a while— Is the wart off?—do have it done before John goes[.] I hope I shall arrive in time to see him[.] I calculate on setting out on Thursday week—and then I must rest a day or two in Liverpool[.]

Miss Lawson's account came to £1..13..10—less than I was thinking— Kennedy is not paid yet and I am owing Alick for the two carts of coals. Some ten shillings will need to be laid out for Betty— I shall have near four pounds left I suppose—so that you can either send me what more you think will put me out of danger or I can ask a few pounds from Alick—and send them afterwards— Enclosed is the bill for John— The milk tables are all piled in our close—every one of them was run nearly a foot into the back wall! what is a fixture? The flooring of the peathouse was sold twelve hours after Alick knew that I was to evacuate the “muckle oose” [big house] as old Nanny used to call it. And already the premises are overflowed with a chaos outpoured from the barns &c &c— Be thankful that you are where you are—bugs and all!— When the time comes we shall call order out of it all again. but in the mean time—we are best at a distance— God for ever bless my dear Husband—and send me safe to his heart— Jane Carlyle

Jane sends her love— She has got a new gown from my Mother and gloves and lord knows what all— Robert Barker is here as usual! my shadow— “I begin to be weary”5 Bless thee— O be kind to my little Dear— Be not intolerant—