The Collected Letters, Volume 11


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 2 February 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390202-TC-AC-01; CL 11: 12-13


Chelsea, Saturday 2nd Feby, 1839

My dear Brother,

This is a mere scrape of a pen sent to provoke an answer from you. You will read in my Mother's letter “a full and particular account” of all that we are doing here: but from Annandale to me ward there is a great dearth of news; which I am very anxious you should put an end to as soon as possible. We have not heard a word since before that great wind-storm, which has laid Woodcockair1 all flat, it seems, and covered the whole country with havock: I can only infer by your silence that no very material damage was done any of you by it. But one would like to know by special statement. Pray write to me as soon as you can gather yourself.

Our last Letters, I think, crossed on the road, or nearly so. Your account of poor Ecclefechan was very dismal; nor, I fear, can there much improvement have taken place since then: it is a dismal winter for the poor everywhere. One hopes there may be this single good in the scarcity: it may produce a determined universal onslaught on those iniquitous Corn-Laws,2 and abolish or modify them. There is like to be great disturbance otherwise, and great distress any way.

Meanwhile “ply away” there, my man, and do the best possible. “Better a wee bush than no bield [shelter].” Times must mend: and it is, in all cases, the quietly industrious and prudent-minded man that profits by the time. I long to hear how your meal speculation promises to answer: for I conclude you have started it, and are doing more or less in it. My light on the matter is as good as none; yet one would think such a thing were likely at present. Tell me about this, and about all things; especially things of your own household, and how all prospers with great and small there. Jane I suppose is a clever lassie, able to do up a parcel by this time, in case of need. As for Tom he is a greathearted fellow, according to my judgement, and must continue growing in all senses, in stature, in talent of reading, and every other way. Good be with them, poor little things. They are got into a troublesome toilsome world, and will have to fight thro' it as we are doing.

I have had for some time a small set of books and pamphlets for you, with some old raiment which perhaps would suit Mary best; but am always waiting for some opportunity. The railway people cannot frank it farther than Birmingham; and I doubt whether the carriage after that might not cost you more than it is all worth. I think I shall send it by steam to Edinburgh,3 or off at any rate in some way before long, if no free conveyance occur.

We have snow on the ground three inches deep at present, and the chief frost of the winter. The poor people beg, sell spunks [touch-wood], struggle on. I do not think they are so ill off as in Lancashire: but indeed the miserable part of London is some miles out of our quarter.— My paper is done, even if my time were not. You will take charge of getting the news I now send conveyed to Dumfries and Annan? The fault found with you last time [on] that head, seems to have been totally unjust; my Author, I suppose, was Jean. I meant to write her a word too this time, but it will not do. I am also bound to write to Manchester;4 and will before long.— The general conclusion, dear Alick, is that you must write. Jane affectionately salutes you all. Luck be about the house, and about all your houses! Tell Grahame I mean him a letter too, before long.— Ever Your affectionate— T. Carlyle