October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 28 January 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340128-TC-MAC-01; CL 7:85-87.


Craigenputtoch, Tuesday Night / 28th Jany 1834—

My Dear Mother,

Did you get safe home that freezing night? I regretted more than once that Alick had not taken the Gig (tho' it was troublesome); and could not but fancy when I was in Glenessland that you might still be on the wrong side of Lochmaben. However, the wind was in your favour, and the weather dry: so I hope you managed tolerably, one way or other.

Glen and Jane were waiting for me; and all right. I thought it strange that I did not see you there too; and had to recollect that that was over for the present time. Nay for two or three days this feeling hung about me; especially when I happened to take to dozing after dinner: but I did not let it sadden me; I reflected rather what a happiness it was that you had actually been here, that you were still spared to me, and within reach of me. Turning to the “bright side of my cloud,” I took to reflecting that it might not be long till we met again. Your last visit, with strangers and so forth, was much marred: but we hope to do better another time.1 If the days were once rightly lengthened we must have you up again: if I had a better horse, it were quite a simple matter at any time.

I wrote a long, minute Letter to Jack, for the following Wednesday; told him all about you; how uncertain you still were about your future arrangements; yet how quiet and composed; explained our various plans; assured him, what I hope he knew that we would leave no stone unturned to do the best possible— I think he will write to you, perhaps within a three weeks or fortnight: he will have my Letter (the last one) sometime next week.

I also wrote to poor Jeffrey; but not till any anger I felt had gone off, and given place to a kind of pity. “Poor fellow!” I thought, “what a miserable fuff [huff] thou gettest into; poor old, exasperated Politician! I will positively have pity on thee, and do thee a little good, if I can!” In this spirit was my Letter written; a short careless Letter, winding up the business handsomely, not ravelling it farther. He is off to London today, I fancy; to worry and be worried, in that Den of Discord and Dishonesty; actually, I doubt, to lose his last allottment [sic] of Health, almost his Life, if he be not soon delivered. “He cannot hinder thee of God's Providence”2 is also a most precious truth: not he nor the whole world with the Devil to back it out! This is a fact one ought to lay seriously to heart, and see into the meaning of. Did we see it rightly, what were there beneath the Moon that should throw us into commotion?

Except writing these and some other Letters, I have not put pen to paper yet. I sent word to Mill that I would write two Essays for his new Periodical; the second of which is perhaps to be on John Knox: but I suppose there is no great hurry in the business, but various points to adjust yet; so perhaps I may not start after all till I hear again. But this depends on what supply of Books I get; for with Books I can as profitably employ myself as with anything, in the present state of trade. I have read very diligently since you left us; read on various subjects, in various tongues, even Greek—with Glen. I feel myself busy, and am not discontented: any discontent I have turns generally (I have observed) to some new benefit, if I manage it wisely.

Mrs Welsh has not written yet: we expect to hear tomorrow when she is coming. I think it very unlikely that she will come by sea in this weather; therefore Scotsbrig will lie quite out of her road. You shall hear timeously [in good time] how it goes. Jane speaks of moving over to Templand to warm the house for her: in that case, I think I shall move still farther over to Annandale till they get matters settled; and that will probably be the way of my first visit. I am very anxious that [there] were some settlement about what you are to do; and ere long the hope of Austin's getting a farm will be decided on for this year; so we shall then see it all before us. Fear nothing, my dear Mother; we are all here, and should and will all throw ourselves between you and any hardship. Children, it is said, are the Bank into which parents put their young industry, to be repaid in old age: shame on us if we prove a failure!

Glen's things all came on Wednesday as expected; but we did not let him go till the following Tuesday. He has now been there a week; and declares himself to be “very comfortable.” His room, with its carpet and all etceteras, really looks very snug and well; the Austins like him very well and he them. He comes up to us every night at seven o'clock with a Lesson of Mathematics, which he has learned thro' the [torn: day] and after going thro' this we read some Greek together. This with walking far and wide, when the weather will allow, or reading and smoking when it will not,—fills up his time. One can trace no difference in him from week to week; hardly from month to month. But I have still the strongest hope that he is to be delivered from that heavy burden.— The Greek part of our Lesson is very useful to me: I have been purposing to read this Book we are upon (Homer's Iliad) for the last thirteen years, and never could fairly set about it, for want of company.

Of news there is only this one despicable particular that I think of: Nancy our unworthy sootdrop of a servant is married, or just about it, to an aged Butcher in Thornhill, a drunken man, with a grown up family. It is strongly surmised that she may increase it ere long, by a kind of Into-the-bargain. The wretched mass of Falsehood, Ugliness and Incontinence, to finish all by a double and threefold Falsehood of this sort!— Harry is in great heart, Grace says; “can hardly be got to the water for fling up his heels”! There is a far cleanlier piece of news.

But now, my Dear Mother, I must finish. I have told Rob to let Jean, if she like, open the Parcel, should she have any word of her own: but perhaps Rob will hardly understand me, for it is Grace that has to tell him. Jean's account of the money was all right; and the whole mistake was mine. I hope she will send me some tidings about Howcleugh;3 at all rates about Scotsbrig.

I will send you some kind of token if I am coming soon. Probably to Alick also; for he will see me first, if the Thornhill way of it take effect.— Jane has gone to bed: she complains of her head today, and has done for a week, ever since the house became clear. She talks of going down to see Jean perhaps next week and do shopping: but I advise her otherwise.— My Brotherly Love to Alick and his household (my namesake not forgotten)—to Scotsbrig the same; from the heart! God's blessing with you all.— Good night, my Dear Mother, you have a long Letter, with wonderfully little in it; but I know you are glad of it. Good night. Your affectionate Son

T. Carlyle