The Collected Letters, Volume 11


JWC TO GRACE WELSH ; 17 May 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390517-JWC-GW-01; CL 11: 98-99


Chelsea, Friday, 17 May, 1839.

Dearest Mother—

… Your last Letter is particularly unsatisfactory, scattery “to a degree!”1 as indeed all your Letters from Liverpool have been; but now that you have “a bit haddin' [property] o' your ain” again, I really do pray you to be at leisure, for, “depend upon it the slower thou gangs the sooner thou'lt get to thy journey's end.”2 I should have liked to know your mode of travelling; and whether my Uncle was “not so well” in the eyes or in his general health; and a variety of other things which are left to “my own conjectur.”3 This the fourth Letter you will please to remember (including the long one to my Uncle) which I have written in Lecture-time, a time of hurry and flurry enough to drive a nervous human being like myself into daily hysterics,—if it were not that my will is stronger than my nerves. And this seems to me to deserve an ample and leisurely return.

To-morrow is last Lecture-day, thank Heaven. Unless he can get hardened in this trade, he certainly ought to discontinue it; for no gain or eclat that it can yield, is compensation enough for the martyrdom it is to himself, and thro' him to me.— To appearance he has got thro' the thing this year much more smoothly and quite as brilliantly as last year; but in defect of the usual measure of agitation beforehand, he has taken to the new and curious crotchet of being ready to hang himself after, in the idea that he has made “a horrible pluister [mess] of it.” No demonstrations of the highest satisfaction on the part of his audience can convince him to the contrary; and he remains, under applause that would turn the head of most Lecturers, haunted by the pale ghost of last day's Lecture “shaking its gory locks at him”4 till next day's arrive to take its place and torment him in its turn.— “Very absurd.”

We are suffering sadly from cold; by and by it will be hot enough. And then what is to follow is not yet very clearly apparent. Sometimes Carlyle talks of going to make a lecturing campaign in America this very Autumn; sometimes of taking a house on the seashore; but we are likely, I think, to end in a campaign against Templand,—which I should not wonder if in your opinion were the most judicious and natural-looking thing we could do.— God bless you, my own dear Mother: but you must get yourself right paper, ink and pens, and write world-looking Letters.

Your affectionate /