The Collected Letters, Volume 11


JWC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 13 April 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390413-JWC-MAC-01; CL 11: 76-78


[April 13, 1839]

My dear Mother

It were much pleasanter to write to you if besides white paper he would leave me something to say. But away he goes, skimming over everything, whipping off the cream of everything, and leaves me nothing but the blue milk to make you a feast of— The much best plan for me were to take the start of him, and have the first ‘rush o' i tea’ to myself—as I positively design to do in lecture to1 time when there will be something worth while to tell.

Meanwhile I cannot bethink me of one additional piece of news, except that our old friend Jeffrey is made a Grandfather— His daughter, who, you know, I suppose, is married to a man twice her own age, went to bed the other night after dining out, and before morning had produced a nice little thumping ‘red child’2—over which of course there is great joy— We see Jeffrey often since he came to London and he is very friendly still—tho “he could not cut us out of God's Providence.” We had a Roman Catholic Frenchman flying about us at a prodigious rate last week but he has left London for the present— He told us all about how he went to confession &c &c—and how he had been entirely demoralized at one period, and was recovered by the spectacle of a holy procession! He seems a very excellent man in his own way—but one cannot quite enter into his extasies about white shirts and wax tapers and all that sort of thing.3— I hope you are all well and thinking of me as heretofore with kindness—this is cruel weather for Isabella and you and me—

ever affectionately yours

Jane Carlyle

[TC's postscript]

You would see my Petition about Authors' Copyrights in the last Examiner?4 If they have that law, and my bits of writings last so long, it may be worth something to somebody after my time is done[.]

We had a Newspaper from Hanning lately; and sent them one. Jean says they do not like Manchester in this bad year; a bad year I do suppose it is, and no very good one within sight yet! Surely, however, they will not always be so bad. Jenny spoke when I saw her of getting to Scotsbrig with her child when the spring came. I hope she has not given it up, but only waits better weather,—which must arrive soon.

Enough for today—



A poor Postst like the last; and at almost a year's distance from it.5 These are the Lectures years, 1837–1840; this year's Lectures (for it is ‘April 12’) wd be within 3 weeks.

‘First rush o' ye tea,’ intelligible now only to myself, was at that time full of mirth ingenuity and humr in the quarter it was going to! My Mother, many years before, on the eve of an Ecclefn Fair, happened in the gloaming to pass one Martha Calvert's door, a queer old cripple creature who used to lodge vagrants, beggars, ballad-singers, snap-women &c, such as were wont, copiously enough (chiefly from the “Brig-end of Dumfries”), to visit us on these occasns. Two beggarwomen, were pleasantly chatting, or taking sweet counsel, outside in the quiet summer dusk, when a third started out, eagerly friendly, “come awa', haste; 't's ye first rush o' ye tea!” (genl tea, inside, just beginng, first rush of it far superior to 3d or 4th!)

‘God's Providence,’ &c—said Peg Ir'rin (Irving), a memorable old bread-&-ale woman, extensively prepared to vend these articles at Middlebie Sacramt, cd not by entreaty or logic (her Husband had fot at Bunker's Hill) extort from the Parish Official (ruling elder) liberty to use the vacant School-house for that purpose; whereupon Peg, with a toss of her foolish high head (a loud absurd woman, tho an empty especially of any mischief), “Ah weel; thou canna cut me out of God's Providence.” Jeffrey's performance had not at one time, it wd seem— Indeed I suppose he had at no time, with all his friendliness any power of essentially helping us. But as to God's Providence, that was as above