October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 7 April 1832; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18320407-TC-AC-01; CL 6:143-145.


Templand, Saturday Night [7 April 1832].

My Dear Alick,

Your little Mare carried us up very handsomely, and with wonderful spirit (especially the last half of the journey) considering how she has been worked of late. We gave ourselves and her rather a long rest at Dumfries; and got here, all safe and sound, about 8 o'clock.

I have nothing but a miserable squirt of a crow-pen to write with; so must make the fewest words possible serve.

We called at both Post-Offices, and found news at both: at Ecclefechan, that Carlisle Letter, the purport of which my Mother can explain to you: at Dumfries, among other things, a Letter from Jack, which you will read as I have done with satisfaction at the poor Doctor's welfare. Naples, where he probably now is,1 lies south of Rome, in the finest climate and situation of any city in Europe; Mount Vesuvius, a fine shew, but not dangerous, burns or smokes within sight of it: there will be already summer there.

In regard to the Carlisle Letter tell my Mother that I will write forthwith to the man to send up his five shillings to Postie at Ecclefechan; in whose hands she will probably find it about Wednesday first, and can get it, and buy tea with it.

At Dumfries, besides Jack's, there was another Letter (from Fraser, the Magazine man) bringing the mournful tidings that Goethe was no more.2 Alas! Alas! I feel as if I had a second time lost a Father: he was to me a kind of spiritual Father. The world holds not his like within it. But it is appointed for all ‘once to die.’3

We saw Shaw,4 and delivered him Jane's Letter; but there was no sort of answer, I think; none that I heard of. He looked rather wae to see us; and both sides had to confess not without emotion that much had come and gone since our former meeting. TIME, the all-devouring!

But now to our small daily matters. We got a gardener (name forgotten), who is to be upon the ground carrying a spade over his shoulder on Monday morning: a decent-looking man, brought to us by Shaw. Some messenger is in the interim to be despatched to Betty Smeal with warning and help, both of victual and cash. One or both of ourselves must go over as soon as possible to see with our own eyes. In regard to this garden matter also, say to my Mother that the Potatoes will not be needed: there is some seed for us here.

Where I am to lodge or how to move for the next week, I cannot yet with any certainty predict; probably I shall be here most part of it; possibly we may have taken up quarters by the end of it at our own fireside: at all events, it is not unlikely that I may contrive to see you there when you come up for the pigs: if the Sunday is good weather, it might perhaps be permitted me to ride over on such an errand. But it is all, as you see, unfixed, fluctuating: one thing only you can look upon as certain; that after Monday morning I am to be figured sitting at my work. Either here or elsewhere I will have a private apartment, and set to: so have I decided it. In some two weeks, I shall be done with this little Job:5 then I am my own master again, and mean to make a sally into Annandale, and see you all with more deliberation. Perhaps in some three weeks; if Harry get any sort of mettle into him. There is much to be said and considered about the new state our whole Brotherhood is thrown into, now that our Head is gone. Meanwhile, let us all strive, by God's grace, to do our parts, each for himself, bearing and forbearing, they that are strong helping them that are weak. O let us all be gentle, obedient, lovi[ng] to our Mother; now that she is left wholly to our charge! ‘Honour thy Father and [Mo]ther’:6 doubly honour thy Mother when she alone remains.

Tell Jane (for she is my only Scotsbrig writer) that she may send on [the] Dumfries Paper directed ‘Craigenputtoch’ (for the Dumfries Postmaster has orders to forward it hither); and perhaps on Wednesday they will find one from me: or say, on Thursday, and then it will be certain.

Bid our dear Mother take care of herself: if you have any time, write me a single line to say whether she is better again; for we left her complaining. T[ell her] that she is to hold fast her trust in the Great Father, and no evil will befal her [or] hers.

I have now surely scribbled enough: but indeed my crow-pen grows strangely better by use. Our Post-Office address even now, is, as I said: Craigenputtoch. I will still hope to see you about the end of the week. At all events so soon as this little turn of work is turned off.— Jane bids me send one and all her kindest affection: her Mother is delighted with the swine-heads (she says), and finds one of them the express image of a Dr Russell7 here.

Jamie knows all that I could say about the Crowdieknow Pony: you and he can act accordingly. I trust your little Black will not take harm by this expedition: Charlie has been appointed to take it home, the Boy not having gumption enough: I charged him to use it with all gentleness. I noticed a little nip on the right shoulder, as we came up the mains brae; but hope our gig-collar did not make it worse.

And so, dear Brother, and dear Friends all, take my affectionate good-night. With special love to my Mother (who must finish Johnson) I remain always,

Your's heartily /

T. Carlyle

Put a wafer into that Carlisle Letter, and send it off from Ecclefechan (Charles,8 if none earlier, will put it in); then let my Mother call for the amount—say, on thursday—I have sent it unsealed, because you might perhaps like to see how it turned out.