October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO MARY CARLYLE AUSTIN; 8 April 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340408-TC-MCA-01; CL 7:128-130.


Craigenputtoch, 8th April, 1834.

Dear Mary,— I was very much obliged by your little note of Wednesday last; glad to learn that my mother continued in her usual way; that James and you had determined on trying Annan, which I think far preferable to any farming speculation, in the present state of matters. I hope Alick and he have got well rid of the ill Horse, and that you will soon get a good one, and be fairly under way in the enterprise. No doubt both of you will do your very best: be prudent, diligent, and thrifty; minding only your own affairs, and your neighbour's only in so far as you can do him some good: this is the rule for succeeding in all things; and, in the present thing, I really flatter myself you have a very fair chance. However, you must not be discouraged at first; bear steadfastly on, in the determination to prevail: remember, as the proverb says, “There is a dub [puddle] at every town-end, and a loch [lake] at this one.”1 There is none of us but will heartily rejoice to see you do well; and be ready to assist you if we can.— So I hope it will all turn out for the best, and another year see us all settled more to our minds than at present.

As to my mother, of whom I again long for news, I am not without some hope of even seeing her tomorrow, if she fell in with my advice; for Jane and I are going to Dumfries ourselves to do various things; at least, I am; for as to her I fear she does not look very like going; a headache having sent her to bed tonight directly after tea. She is not better yet; but thinks she may perhaps be so before to-morrow. I expect a Letter at least, if not my mother in person, and to have the day named when she is coming.

My chief reason for writing to-night, however, is this. A woman came yesterday over from Penpont,2 very earnest about buying Noolie our Cow. I chanced to be over at Barjarg Library, and she did not see me till after dark, and so had to stay all night. The answer I gave her was as follows. That a sister of mine was likely to be wanting precisely such a Cow at Whitsunday; that for no price, accordingly, could I sell the Animal till my sister had the refusal of her; that if she, the Penpont woman, however (who seemed a very decent body), would say what the cow was worth to her, I would mention it to you, and have an answer on Wednesday next but one, which answer should be conveyed to her next Post-day. The Penpont woman answered, with various hummings, about “cows growing auld,” and “a' kinds o' beess fa'ing g'ennow,”3 and so forth, that she would give £3 sterling money for Noolie, and the calf she was daily expected to have: to pay down the money and receive the two animals on Whitsunday morning. Whereupon I told Grace to give her some supper and put her to bed; and so it rests.

Now you are to consider, maturely, and take counsel with the rest, whether this Beast is worth as much to you, or is not worth so much. You know her age and all her ways far better than I do: they say her condition at present is what it used to be after wintering on rye grass, and that tho' she never gave (to actual measure) her twenty-one daily quarts of milk last year, they thought it was not a falling off on her part, but on some other thing's or person's, that occasioned it. So consider it, as I said: and let me know by some Letter or other means next Wednesday.

Perhaps Alick himself will be here then. I long much to see him; but suppose he is too busy at present in this fine […] weather. Tell him to come as soon as he possibly can.

We get word from Mrs Austin that the House I talked of was [vir]tually missed, and no longer “for to let”; but she spoke with great confidence and kindness about getting us another somewhat like it. We have heard some vague rumours of some kind of tenant for this house, but have never yet heard the sound of any actual offer. I hardly ever expected it would let.

Tell my mother (if she be not come to-morrow) that I got myself scolded last week for not making the smallest acknowledgment for those chuckas [hens] (the fattest ever seen here): and really I think deserved it. I made abundant acknowledgments by eating them in a proper manner.— Jane is not here, and cannot send you her remembrances. I salute you all with my best affection. And so Goodnight, with all good, to Scotsbrig and whatever is in it!

Your affectionate Brother, /

T. Carlyle.

Train up your children, my dear Sister, above all things, never on any account to lie. The longer I live the more clearly I see how that is the beginning of all vice. “God hates a Liar.”