October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 27 August 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330827-TC-MAC-01; CL 6:429-431.


Craigenputtoch, Tuesday Night 27th August, 1833—

My Dear Mother,

By dint of great industry I realized this inclosed Letter from our good Doctor on Sabbath afternoon; of course I must hurry it on to you by Nancy tomorrow. You see all has hitherto gone well with poor Jack, and he will probably be under way again in about a week hence. I think it likely he may write you before; at least I rather encouraged him to do it. I have just finished an immense Letter to him, which I trust will find him safe on Friday: there was as little of grief or lamenting as I could; in a little while we shall be in our old train again, and must just be as patient as we were. I told him I expected he would write to you not seldomer than he promised but oftener. So what can we do, dear Mother, but commit what is precious to us to the merciful Higher Hand, and wait with thankfulness, with hope and faith, for what He pleases to appoint.

I told Jack that you were quite composed again; that we had all watched his Ship from our several hill-sides, and sent our blessings with him; that we should trust and pray that we might all see him coming up the Solway again, safe home once more to us. It is in God's hands, my dear Mother: we indeed know not what a day may bring forth; but could it be in better hands?

As for ourselves we got home on Monday; I was not perhaps so sad as I might have feared. Since then all has gone well: I am not writing yet, and know not well when I shall; yet am I not idle, sometimes even busy, and so look forward to the winter with a degree of cheerfulness, which will increase with me the more I deserve to be cheerful.

Your parcel with Jane's welcome Letter1 in it was got to hand (thro' Nethertown) on Thursday: all safe and welcome,—except indeed a little grease-spot on Ben Nelson's Book (from the wrappage of it, I think) which however is of smallest confidence [sic: consequence]. Since then three little happinesses have befallen us. First a Piano-tuner, procured for 5 shillings and 6 pence, has been here, entirely reforming the Piano, so that I can hear a little music now, which does me no little good. Secondly, the Major Irving of Gribton who used at this season of the year to live and shoot at Craigenvey, came in one day to us, and after some clatter offered us a rent of £ 5 for the right to shoot here, and even tabled the cash that moment and would not pocket it again. Money easilier won never sat in my pocket; money for delivering us from a great nuisance; for now I will tell every Gunner applicant: I cannot, Sir; it is let. Our third happiness was the arrival of a certain young unknown Friend named Emerson from Boston in the United States, who turned aside so far from his British French and Italian travels, to see me here! He had an introduction from Mill and a Frenchman (Baron d'Eichthal's Nephew) whom John knew in Rome. Of course we could do no other than welcome him; the rather as he seemed to be one of the most loveable creatures in himself we had ever looked on. He staid till next day with us, and talked and heard talk to his heart's content, and left us all really sad to part with him. Jane says, it is the first journey ever since Noah's Deluge undertaken to Craigenputtoch for such a purpose. In any case, we had a cheerful day from it, and ought to be thankful.2

I have no other news to tell you; nothing is astir here, but a little hay-gathering rather languidly. We had a kind of Lammas Flood, but the windiest and driest I remember. There is a great Drought in the South, they say: here too no rain we have had has gone beyond skin-deep.

I had a thought of sending the two Portraits down to Jamie Aitken to be framed with the rest; but must first see whether Nancy can take them quite safely—for she has seventeen cheeses, besides yellow butter enough. If she cannot I will take charge of them in due season myself.

It is said Stroquhan has found a Purchaser; yet also that we are not to have a new Neighbour, but only the Edinburgh people a new Lawsuit. The case it seems is this: John Anderson hearing that the property is sold suddenly steps forward and says: This property was never my Brother's, for my Father who survived him, was of unsound mind when he gave it up; and so now it is by fair inheritance mine; and I will pay my Father's debts from it, but of my Brother's not a shilling! A most monstrous piece of conduct, as unjust as may be to have a colour of lawfulness. Such at least is the common clatter of the country; it may have some basis more or less, it may have none.

Now my good Crow3 must write again soon, and tell me how the Harvest progresses and the Harvesters, at Scotsbrig and at Catlinns. I am glad too that Mrs Clow4 staid; yet surely she should make the miserable Laird pay down what Law will force him to pay. Alas, thrift is good; but such thrift is terrible.— Now remember your promised visit, dear Mother, and how you are due to us this winter; and be kind to yourself and careful of yourself in the interim.— Jane's thanks, our kindest constant Love to you all. Goodnight and blessings with you!

T. Carlyle