January 1835-June 1836

The Collected Letters, Volume 8


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE; 1 March 1835; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18350301-TC-JC-01; CL 8:65-66.


Chelsea, London, 1st March, 1835.

Dear James of Scotsbrig,

I send you this scrape of a Pen by way of memorial that I still love you; and as thanks for the like assurance sent by you some time ago. If it have no other value at all, you will not think it worthless.

I get no account of you as Head of a Family; for in your postscript you seemed not so much as to remember that you had a better half: a sad forgetfulness, man; and far too early in date yet! For it is written, a man shall cleave unto his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh:1 that is the text, make of it what you will.— But the serious truth is, I am very glad to believe you going on well at Scotsbrig, in your new relation; making diligent head against whatsoever evil may arise, and beating it down; living as a good husband, a good son; a good husbandman: it is one of the enviablest lots one could get in this vexed and vexing world. Make my renewed regards to your wife; whom I hope to know better yet. My Mother told Jean once that she (your wife) seemed to [be] more careful about all being right up stairs than you were. Tell her I shall be doubly grateful to her for any kindness there. Peace and affection is very blessed: not to be had pure in this Earth; but if people all mean honestly, I have noticed that temporary variations come always round again, and one gets along handsomely after all. My Mother says always that she is very comfortable: I believe, no child she has born would not cheerfully part his last resource with her, if she needed it. Ill would it become us: she never spared herself for us in the past season; but spent and was spent like the truest Mother. We have all reason to thank Heaven for her.

It is well for you that you can “go on as usual” this year; for it seems every where to be among the worst for Farmers. No trade is good. One cannot help it: there is no method but diligence and thriftiness; these two in your position, happily, one can hope, will still suffice.— I suppose you are far on with ploughing; the winter has been so mild. We have rain now, and even spits of sleet; and winds by which I hear of panes broken. Hitherto it has been the driest country I ever saw: our rain-barrel was never full till lately. The people seem to me sluttish weedy farmers; and trust mostly to manure.

What would you think of a man ploughing with from three to five horses all in a string, and a stout goadsman to help him? They are an eating people, unacquainted with frugality; acquainted therefore with want. I forget how many Poor's-rates2 we have paid this year, nor are they done yet. The very chimney-sweeps must have treacle to their penny-roll: the washerwoman dines on roast-beef with an occasional plum-pudding. “Wae's tem wi' their bags”!3 Leish [nimble] workers too; but seemingly rather weak: “a' straik together, but raither licht.”4

I am much mistaken if I did not lately in Piccadilly (one of our main streets), see Johnston (did they call him?) Rob White's5 brother-in-law, that married the old drunken woman. He was leaning on a lamp-post, amid the roaring throng; might be by his look some Porter of a Shop or Coach-office near by; his look was not sumptuous, but also had nothing of the blackguard, was even honest and decent. His eye kindled as he caught mine: but I was gone a good way before I could rake him up in my memory. Since then, in the same street, I certainly saw Wull Bogs.6 He was grown witheredish; had a good coat on his back; and one may wish but can hardly believe that he got it building Kirks. Him I look upon as a confirmed squeef [disreputable person], I might say as a born one (for he was a liar and fool from the very womb): may the Upper Powers have pity on him! I am sorry my Paper is done. Alick will tell you all about my Book and me: I am in as good health as usual; have begun shower-bathing again, and walk daily.— My Mother will soon write? If James of Scotsbrig were not a singular character would not he write too?— Good night my dear Brother. Farewell, be wise and happy. Your affectionate— T.C.