The Collected Letters, Volume 10


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 10 April 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18380410-TC-MAC-01; CL 10: 58-61


Chelsea, 10th April, 1838

My dear Mother,

There never was any poor punctual man more unlucky in his calculations than I. Some fortnight ago, or more, on some Newspaper (I think) coming from Manchester with three strokes on it, I took it into my head that this was a sign you and Jenny were over into Annandale; that you had not time to write, and had meant me to understand the thing in that manner! The consequence was, I despatched my next Examiner punctually addressed to you at Scotsbrig. Thither also I sent the next Examiner; nay I also wrote a good long Letter, and sent it thither!1 There, it would seem, all these things, Newspapers and Letter, are yet lying. I cannot praise our Annandale friends for not taking some steps in consequence. They should have sent you notice, or sent me notice. They might have transmitted you the Examiners at any rate.— I got the Second Newspaper from Manchester; but failed altogether to detect your handwriting or anything but Robert's; I saw the address indeed written on the Newspaper itself, but paid no heed to it: noticing the three strokes I fancied it was to be taken as a sign that perhaps Jenny (tho' rather suddenly) had got safe back again. Not till yesterday afternoon when I got in from my walk, and found your Letter lying, did I see how it was.2 You may think what an astonishment it gave me. I instantly wrapt together an old Newspaper that chanced to be lying at hand and hastened out with it, to catch the Post still on the streets; a feat I happily accomplished: and now today, tho' almost altogether without time, I fling you together a word or two to explain how it was, and set your kind heart at rest. Nothing was wrong, all is right; only my skill in guessing was wrong and misled me.

The Annandale Letter will wait for you till you arrive there. It contained no news, except that we were holding on much as usual, only Jane's health a little threatening. The cold March> weather set her coughing again. But happily all that is past now, and she is as strong at least as before, and able to get out now when the day is favourable. I had enclosed you a Letter from my American friend Emerson; shewing how he had reprinted the F. Revolution in America, with skilful arrangements, and hoped to gain for me some £150 by the job. A very kind man. Since that I have actually received a copy of the American Book (in two fine volumes), and a pretty book it is: if the “700 dollars” come too, it will be something! Emerson says they had already sold 500 copies; that the young people were in raptures, the old “shaking their heads,” in short that it was all right there.3 They have the Review Articles printed too I suppose by this time; from which also I am to hope dollars. On this side of the water too, I must say, the Book business continues to prosper as well as I could hope: grand compliments &c from this one and that one;—unfortunately no money yet visible. Patience, Patience; I believe it must turn to something at last. I gave Fraser a tusseling [blowing up] the other day, who seemed greatly frightened; we will see farther into it soon.4 But indeed I believe poor Fraser will never do a[ny] good for me, and that I must try to make a bargain with some other as soon as possible. By the Note which I inclose you will see that a certain worthy Thomas Erskine proposes that a friend of his should help me in that business of bargain-making with Booksellers: I have several good friends here. This Erskine,5 I think I mentioned in the Scotsbrig Letter which you never saw, is a Scotch gentleman of fortune; famed in the religious world for Books he has written and things he has done; who says (consider that!) “he does not know but Carlyle is more orthodox than any of them!” We like him very much, as every body does. He was here last night; but is going to the Continent soon, his home in the North having grown too sad for him, sisters and mother and so many dear friends having been called away by death within the last two years.6— Enough now about Books. The Poet Southey, one of the chief men of England, was here last week; and left word among his friends that he meant to read the F. Rn six times.7 I said, there were compliments enough and to spare. What's ta use on't?

We have also had Newspapers from Jack; three I think; all of which I duly forwarded into Scotland, so that you never saw them. One came yesterday no farther gone (it was off before your Letter came); it had a mark to indicate both that Jack was well, and that he had received the Article Scott which I sent him by some Frenchmen. I suppose we shall get a Letter before long to say that they are about leaving Rome. He was to be here before the end of May.— Finally by the ticket you see how it is with the Lectures! Twelve of them, at due intervals; the price 2 guineas. I would give a gill I were thro' them. They throw me into a fever to think of them; but I must gird myself up, and go resolutely to work: it will not be so bad as last year. Some way or other we shall warsle [struggle] thro' it! There will be no peace for me till then. This, my dear Mother, must suffice you for news. I calculate on writing again before long; you will write before you go; or perhaps carry the Letter over to Annan and send it off, that will be best? As it is not to be till after the 1st of May, I think I will try and send you a few Books about the beginning of the month. I have nothing but my blessing to send you at present; being all flurried to pieces, and not a moment to bethink myself. What an absurd mistake that was; what anxieties have I caused you by it! I will never do the like again,—if I can help it.

Poor Mary! Poor wee Wull, whom I remember very well, whom I shall never see again!8 James Aitken had given us a hint that the poor child was dangerously ill; we did not learn till your Letter that all was over, and had ended in death. It will be a great sorrow to poor Mary and Jamie; I wish I had any means at all of alleviating it. But what can we do; what can we say? “The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away”;9 well if we could heartily add, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!” You should write to Mary, poor thing; assure her how truly we all sympathize with her, and entreat her to be comforted.

There is three o'clock ringing! I am already too long here, and have written far more than I meant. Take care of yourself, dear Mother. Tell Jenny to accept my thanks for writing; it is very sad work writing (as I say to the Annandale people) when you can get no answer. Wish Robert all speed in his traffic; I not only wish it, but can hope it. Jane is gone out, or she would more expressly send her love. My blessing on you all! I hope to write soon again. Ever (my dear Mother) Your affectionate

T. Carlyle.

On second thoughts, I will not send you the Lecture-ticket this time lest it prove too weighty for the frank.10 I send you an Irish Letter of compliments instead.11 You can read it and light your pipe with it.— The Lectures begin on Monday fortnight (the last day of this month) and go on on Mondays and Fridays till the 11th of June. You shall see the prospectus of them I hope by the next frank.

Buller is going to Canada with Durham; did you know that? with a salary of £1500 a year. Arthur too goes; and they said, Mrs Buller herself was thinking of going! There is a heart for you.12