candlestick

1838


The Collected Letters, Volume 10


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TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 12 June 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18380612-TC-MAC-01; CL 10: 93-98


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE

5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, 12th June, 1838.

My dear Mother,

Without a moment's delay I am bound to put you out of pain, and say that these Lectures are over and all is right with me here. We finished yesterday; I write today, and hope to get you a frank of any extent tomorrow. So let us be thankful; for, as I tell you, it is all right.

You would see by the Examiner how we were going on; struggling along, not without some success towards the conclusion of it.1 The Examiner of this week ought to reach you too, almost without delay: I sent it forward to Jenny with your address “Scotsbrig” on it; meaning that she should see also how it went with me, and then send the thing on to you as usual: I have not learned for certain that she is returned home yet, but suppose it to be so, and that she is probably destitute of news about me. The Lectures, tho' at first ill arranged, went on better and better, and grew at last, or threatened to grow, quite a flaming affair. I had people “greeting” [weeping] yesterday &c! I was quite as well pleased that we ended there, and did not make any farther racket about it: I have too good evidence (in poor Edward Irving's case) what a racket comes to at last; and want, for my share, to have nothing at all to do with such things. What the money amount will be I do not yet know for a day or two: but I ought to tell you that the success of the thing, taking all sides of it together, seems to have been very considerable; far greater than I at all expected: and so are we not well thro' it? My audience was supposed to be “the best, for rank, beauty and intelligence, ever collected in London”!2 I had bonny braw [finely dressed] Dames, Ladies this and Ladies that,—tho' I durst not look at them, lest they should put me out. I had old men of four score; men middle-aged with fine steel-grey heads; young men of the Universities, of the Law professions: all sitting quite mum there, and the Annandale voice gollying [roaring] at them; very strange to consider.3 Again and again I say we should be thankful;—and, above all things, shut our lips together again, and try to be quiet a little. They proposed giving me “a dinner,” some of them; but I declined it: “Literary Institutions” more than one express desire that I would lecture for them; but this also (their wages being small and their Lecturers generally despicable) I decline. This morning I have written off a handsome refusal to the “City of London Literary Institution,”4 leaving the door open however, should it at any time become necessity with me to enter. And so this matter is over: good luck to it!

As to my health it did not suffer so much as I had reason to dread: I was awaking at 3 in the morning &c when the thing began; but afterwards I got to sleep till 7 and even 8, and did not suffer nearly so much. I am no doubt shaken and stirred up considerably into a kind of “raised [inflamed]” state, which I like very ill; but in few days I shall get still enough again, and probably even too still.5 One must work; either with long moderate pain, or else with short great pain: the short way is the best according to my notion.

Jane has been weakly all this while; yet has contrived to go every day to the Lecture, and get into almost as great a tirryvee [nervous state] with it as myself. She is getting decidedly a little stronger now, I hope, as the weather grows warmer; she even proposed to go out to dinner along with me tomorrow night, but is not sure yet. It is to these ‘Marshalls,’ Yorkshire people, of enormous wealth, very good people, of whom I think I told you last time.6 Dinners do me always mischief, and I avoid them wherever possible. But this season of the year is all on a gallop here in London with dinners and meetings and business and gilravish [commotion] of all kinds; and one cannot always refuse without suffering in another way. My last dinner (yesterday gone a week) was at the Spring-Rice's house, the Chancellor of the Exchequer no less, whose family, braw [fine] daughters and sons, are great hearers of mine.7 It was a splendid meeting; wherein I felt dull and sick: dinner-time 8 o'clock, and I had been in the medicinal way the day before! It is sad work.

What I am to do now? This is altogether uncertain yet. For one thing, I have made a kind of engagement here to print my Articles &c, and that will detain me a few weeks at any rate. I could get no money for the Books; indeed I instantly tired of seeking; and Fraser, who I suspect had heard of my being on the search, and of what ill speed I had, Fraser I say drew up all of a sudden, and was quite determined that he would go either on the “half-profits” system or not at all. Whereupon I said to myself, “Not thou, O Fraser, not thou but another; any other is preferable to thee!” So I walked over, and made a half-profits bargain with “Saunders and Otley,” a Bookselling house of far better character than Fraser's, and who at any rate are useful to me in the Lecturing business.8 Teufelsdröck accordingly is actually at press; and I can hope to give my Mother an English copy of him in regular shape before long. Poor fellow, he has had a sore struggle to get out here, some seven years or more; but having started up in Yankeeland, they were forced to let him out here; he would not keep down. Good luck to him we will say;—tho' perhaps he is no great shakes after all, poor fellow! How the Yankees are going on with printing &c &c you will see by these flaming epistles, which I send along with this.9 The printing of these books, I calculate, will be useful to me here as a Lecturer; that is my view in it, even should I get no money otherwise, and nothing but trouble, by them. Nay I have not yet bargained any farther than as to Teufelk with these Booksellers here; and perhaps shall go no farther, but take some different scheme with it.10

I have had two Newspapers from Jack; the last of them only two days ago, and it was dated Florence; two strokes as usual.11 From which I can only gather that he is well, and is journeying northwards, having quitted Rome for the summer at any rate. One of the places he spoke of is the North of Italy, a beautiful Lake-country there;12 I fancy they are proceeding thitherward, or rather perhaps are there already after some smooth pleasant journey of a week or so. To England I fear there is small chance of their coming! No; they will not come the way one wants them; he that has his bread to win must wait on those that have it to give him. Poor Jack seemed very quiet; but no doubt he is wae as we all are. It is to me a very great disappointment: I thought to have had the poor fellow here even now, and comforted myself with him in the time of rest.13 Let us not lament; let us be right thankful to know that he is well anywhere. By God's blessing the time for meeting will come; and we shall see the poor Doctor whole and well again, we will humbly hope, in due season.— As for us, and our going to Italy to see him, that is all as vague and uncertain as ever; hanging in the wind altogether till several things be settled; till, at any rate, we have heard from him more specially. I do not know rightly when a Letter may be expected; he will likely not write till my letter reach him, and it may require time, having to follow on journeys: whenever the Italian Letter does come, of course you will see it or hear of it forthwith.— I will write no more today dear Mother; but leave this little scrap for tomorrow before sealing. All good be with you, and soft summer winds in quiet Scotsbrig yonder! Jane is gone out. Good day, dear Mother!—

Wednesday.— Dear Mother, I have scribbled a Note for Alick, and will add a word here before sealing up. Robert Calvert14 came, one day, about three weeks ago, just when I was going out to lecture; we could only appoint some other day, for he could not return that day to dinner: he came a day or two after, and spent the afternoon with us;—a sensible well-bred, robust young man: we were glad to understand he had outlooks of employment here. He confessed that the Letter he brought in Jamie's name was at bottom written by Alick,—ah thou, James of Scotsbrig! Tell Isabella15 that the Cheese lies, in its lead wrappages, waiting some great occasion: her health will require to be drunk then.— Is it I that am to write to Jean at Dumfries; or is it not she to me? You may put that question to her, when you send our news. Poor Mary, I hope you go often down to see her: it would give me true satisfaction to know her honest James and her in some canny country place; but there is no hope of that just now, they must hold on steadfastly as they are doing, for a season yet. And you, dear Mother, when are you to write; about yourself and all your doings and concerns? I hope Alick has arranged these Houses for you on a better footing than they stood on, that you will be plagued no more about rents in that way.16 Above all, how is your health, in these inclement months? It has been an unkindly spring again, and much sickness; very little summer weather even here as yet. With you I consider, it must be worse as to temperature. Yet surely summer is coming. I have a good many Books and readable rubbish here for you; but do not yet see the best way of sending them. In due season they will come;—perhaps I too, who knows! Adieu, dear Mother. Jane joins me in affectionate wishes to you, and to all. Be quiet and happy till I come to you!— Your affectionate Son,

T. Carlyle

A man the day before yesterday sent to request that I would have the goodness to give some account of my Life, as he was engaged to write an Article on it for a German Biographical Dictionary, very celebrated!17 I sent him off with very small print,—in a way “sharp but mannerly.” Write your Life? Let us live it, that is the thing!

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