July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO JANET CARLYLE HANNING; 18 July 1837; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18370718-TC-JCHA-01; CL 9:252-254.


Scotsbrig, 18th July, 1837

My dear Jenny,—

According to promise, I set about writing you a word of Scotch news, now that I am fairly settled here and know how things are. The railway train whirled me away from you rapidly that evening. Next evening, about the same hour, we were getting out of Liverpool harbour, and on the following morning, between seven and eight o'clock, I had got my eye upon Alick waving to me from the end of the Jetty at Annan. It is almost three weeks now that I have been here and found all well, but it was only the day before yesterday that we got our first visit to Dumfries made out, and could rightly report about matters there. I fancied a newspaper with two strokes would communicate the substance of what was to be said in the interim.

There has been a good deal of discussion about Alick and his going to America. He himself seemed of mind to go, but not very strongly or hopefully set on it. Our Mother, again, was resolute against it, and made such a lamenting as was sufficient to dishearten one more inclined than he. So now I think it seems fixed so far as that he will not go. What he is to do here one does not so well see, but it will evidently be a great point gained for him that he give up thinking about departure, and direct his whole industry to ascertaining how he can manage here where he is. Men of far less wit than he do contrive to manage, when once they have set their heart on it. Jamie is quite ready to go to Puttock and give up Scotsbrig to him, but I still rather think there will nothing come of that; nay, some think Alick himself does not at bottom wish that, but is satisfied with finding Jamie so far ready to accommodate him and keep him at home. He seems very tranquil, cheerfuller than he was and altogether steady; likelier to have a little fair luck than he was a while ago. He must persist where he is. There is nothing that can prosper without perseverance. Perseverance will make many a thing turn out well that looked ill enough once. John of Cockermouth is gone off to America about a fortnight ago with all his family. I got him a letter from Burnswark to a brother of his at New York.1 I doubt not he will do well. Clow of Land has his property advertised for sale; means to be off about the end of August, which also I reckon prudent. With two or three thousand pounds in his pocket and four or five strong sons at his back, a man may make a figure in America. James Austin and Mary were at one time talking of America, but they also have given it up.

We had a letter from the Doctor shortly after my arrival here. He is well, living at Albano, a summer residence some twenty miles from Rome. He speaks of it being possible, or probable, that he may get back to England in September, but it is not certain. He will be pretty sure to come by Manchester and you if he come Northward. The rest, as I have already hinted, are all well and following their usual course. Jamie and his wife and two sons go along very briskly. His crops look well. He had his Peat-stack up (and mother's little one beside it) and his hay mown, though the late rains and thunder have retarded that a little. The country never looked beautifuller in my remembrance, green and leafy; the air is fresh, and all things smiling and rejoicing and growing. Austin is busy enough now with work. He had a bad time of it in spring, when horse provender was so dear. The children are well,—even the eldest looks better than I expected,—and Mary, their mother, seems hearty and thrifty. I mentioned that we had been at Dumfries. Alick took up our Mother and me on Friday last in a rough “Dandycart”2 of Mrs. Scott's with a beast of Jamie's. One of the first questions my Mother asked of Jean was, “Hast thou had any word from Jenny?” To which the answer was “No.” Jean's child is running about quite brisk, though a little thinner than it once was; from teeth, I suppose. James Aitken has plenty of work, three or four journeymen. In short, they seem doing well. Finally, Jamie (Maister Cairlill) authorizes me to report that he this day met with a brother of thy Robert's, who said that the Peat-knowes [peat-mounds] too were all well. The day after my arrival here I fell in with William Hanning, the father,3 on Middlebie Brae, measuring some Dykes, I think, with a son of Pottsfowns.4 He looked as well as I have seen him do. The same man as ever, though he must be much older than he once was. The tea parcel was forwarded to him, or sent for, by my desire, that same night.

Our good Mother here is quite well in health; indeed, as well every way as one could expect, though doubtless she is a little lonelier now than when you were with her. She complains of nothing, but does her endeavour to make the best of all things. She wishes you “to write very soon and tell her how the world is serving you.” She would have sent a word or two to that effect in her own hand, she says, but “having a good clerk” (me, namely) “she does not need.” I am to confirm her promise of coming with me when I return southward, and staying till you tire of her. There was word from Jane on Sunday gone a week. She wrote in haste, but at great length, and seemed very cheerful. She will not come hither this time, I think. Her mother is to return home about the end of this month. Jane appears quite prepared to stay by herself. She has some friends yonder whom she is much with, and she rather likes the treat. Mrs. Welsh expects Liverpool people with her to Templand, and can stay no longer.

I have ended my paper, dear Jenny, and given one of the meagrest outlines of our news. You will see, however, that nothing is going wrong with us; that we are thinking of you and desirous to hear from you. Be a good bairn and a good wife, and help your Goodman faithfully in all honest things. He is a thrifty fellow with a good whole heart. There is no danger of him. Help one another. Be good to one another. God's blessing with you both. All here salute you.

I am always / Your affectionate brother,

T. Carlyle.