October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 1 May 1832; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18320501-TC-MAC-01; CL 6:150-151.


Craigenputtoch, Tuesday Night, 2nd[1] May / 1832—

My Dear Mother,

According to promise I will now scribble you a Line; but it must be very short; for I am writing otherwise, as you will suspect, and there is still a good third of my day's task to do. Our Maid is to set forth (on Harry) for MacKnights so soon as tea is over: therefore I make the most of my time.

We are getting along quite handsomely here tho' in the middle of chaos and confusion worse confounded: Jemmy Aitken1 and his man and innumerable oilpots being full operation: they are painting the dining room, lobby and staircase; and to avoid such a slaister [mess] for the future, doing it in oil. We live in the drawing-room, meanwhile; and I for my part, study to “jook and let the jaw go by [duck and let the wave go by],”—minding my own business, as much as possible, and what is not my business as little as possible.

Betty Smeal and Mary (of whose safe arrival we were somewhat relieved to hear) would tell you more minutely than my little Note, how all stood with us a fortnight ago. Jane had sent off to Templand for a maid; but began to regret that she had not endeavoured to bargain with the other, who awkward as she was seemed faithful and punctual: however, on the monday a new figure made her appearance; one “Nancy” from Thornhill,2 a most assiduous, blithe-facedlittle stump of a body, who will do excellently well for a month. The Cow too is mending: Jane is far heartier, now that she has got to work; to bake; and (mark this) to preserve eggs—in lime-water: So that, as I said, the household stands on a quite tolerable footing.

For a week, I felt exceedingly out of my element; inclined to be wretched and sulky; no work would prosper with me: I had to burn as fast as I wrote. However, by degrees I got hefted [adjusted] again; and took obediently to the gang and the gear [pace and the harness]. I have got one piece of Work done, and sent off to London; the other I have now fairly on the anvil, hot before me, and will soon hammer it out. One that is still in the middle, ought not as you know, to crow day: however, I think I can calculate on being pretty well thro' before this week end. So that Jane may tell Alick that I shall be ready for a horse any time after Wednesday next he likes: let him either come on Wednesday, therefore, or send me word then what are his motions, and when he is coming. I have seen or heard nothing more (since his Letter) of the Dumfries beast, and will wait now till I be there at any rate,—if indeed we are not provided otherwise in the mean time.

This, I believe, dear Mother is the main purport of my Letter: that I am to see you again so soon. We will then go thro' everything by the more convenient method.

I wrote to Jack, on Saturday, addressing as he had directed in your Letter. Thank Jane for the Cover she wrote me on that occasion. I sent Alick the last Courier; you the last Examiner, by some of the Carstammon people to Minnyive. It would be at Ecclefechan on Tuesday:— I have rooted out a thousand docks with my dock-spade, which I find to be an invaluable Tool.

Let me pray that I may find you as well as Jane described; ‘mending the Backburn road.’ I add no more, but the Message of my Goodwife's true love to one and all of you. My own heart's-wishes are with you all always. I remain

My Dear Mother, / Ever Your affectionate /

T. Carlyle

Jane wishes Jemmy to be on the outlook for a Pig to her: she would not like to go beyond ten shillings; only wishes a good one could be had so, and come up with Alick's cart. I know not whether the scheme is feasible T.C.