October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 4 December 1832; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18321204-TC-MAC-01; CL 6:274-276.


Craigenputtoch, Tuesday Night, / 4th December 1832—

My Dear Mother,

A long Letter was what I fully intended to write you on this occasion; but just as we were about finishing an early Tea, to get the decks cleared in good time, what should enter but W. Corson and the stupid Schoolmaster you saw here,—at the wrong season, as it ever is! They have sat and jannered [talked foolishly] for near three mortal hours, and have left me so reduced as you see. The will must pass with you for the deed.

The showers on Friday, if any fell at Scotsbrig would do you far more ill than me: I reached Dumfries in the most prosperous manner, little after one o'clock; going by the old road, and running up the ascents. At the Hoddom Mains obstacle, I found Sharp1 and a whole nation of red-coated hunters hounds and whippers-in; but urged poor Harry thro' the midst of them turning not aside: a silly-looking lassie standing by the post, exclaimed in a mournful supplicatory tone, “Peaa towl” [“Pay toll”]; to which prayer however I turned an altogether deaf ear, and never paused for it.

At Dumfries, to my regret, I found the shops all shut; it was their Sacramental Fastday.2 Shaw however was at home, in secret; I got your Trefoil Bag from him; went and talked a little at M'Diarmid's; and then departed between two and three. It was a very good afternoon, and I got hither perfectly well between five and six. Jane was well and waiting for me.

The Apothecaries' Hall being shut, I could get no rhubarb; but Macadam's Wife is charged to get you a little tomorrow, and slip it into the Bag, where by good searching you will find it. The Clogs [wooden-soled shoes] are there, which you already know how to manage. If the cawkers [iron plates] are not judged worth knocking on again, another very light set can be got. There is a pair of old London shoes, too large for me; perhaps they may serve James Austin to the Kirk on a dry day; I have meant to bring them down before now, but forgotten. Jane said, of Mary and her present, that “she (the Presenter) would give her skin off her to any one she had regard for.” I would advise her, not.

Now with regard to the coming back of these Clogs, all is already settled, we have nothing more to say. Of course Jane (and Jamie) will send me some bit of word; the smallest will be welcome. I may add too that I think if you have any opportunity, it were good to set Bob Bell on making me a pair of Drawers: his best kind (and with cotton in them, if he can); we shall see what sort they are of. There is some speech here about the Irongray3 man; but I think the outlook that way seems distant: at the worst we may wait till the Edinburgh hosiery shops are open for us, where tolerable stuff I understand is to be had.

As to the Edinburgh journey, it seems fixed that we are to bend thither about the end of this month: Jane has got four weeks of House-Aliment (weekly allowance) and fancies that will do. We must wait for Alick's coming, before anything is schemed out finally. You shall hear from me again first, if not see me (which however the weather does not encourage); and thro' winter, I promise if power is left me, to be a most regular correspondent. I am really very glad we had so much of you here; it is many long years since we had such craiking [chatting] together: let us hope too another good time is coming. In spring weather it is all far cheerfuller; I too may be less bilious, and so better company. In any case, dear Mother, let us ever feel ourselves as united under the All-seeing Al[l-loving] Eye; divided or not in the body, there we may be together; nay Death itself cannot divide us there.— I have written a long Letter to John, and told him all about you. I am not yet writing anything else. I send my kindest regards to them all, not forgetting my little cracking [talkative] Jennie,—whom Jane here calls “an unken'd [unknown] woman.” A few words I must write to Jamie, and then be done.— Take care of these cold winter frosts and thaws; and keep yo[urself we]ll for us, Dear Mother. And so God keep you all!

T. Carlyle

I have not forgotten Peter's Book.