The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 11 February 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400211-TC-MAC-01; CL 12: 40-42


Chelsea, 11 Feby, 1840—

My dear Mother,

Yesterday I had a short Note written for you, inclosing that brief word of the Doctor's which had arrived the day before; but it proved to be some minutes too late for the Post; so I burn it, and write you a little more at large, the first thing I do today. Jack's word is in the highest degree brief; but it announces that he has arrived safe at his quarters, and found matters fully as favourable as he expected: this, if you have heard nothing from him after Dublin, will be very welcome to you. He is now much nearer Scotsbrig than he was in London: indeed I suppose there is a Steamboat from Londonderry to Glasgow which would bring him over in not many hours. The Penny-Postage, added to this circumstance, ought to make us contrast the Dungiven position favourably with those Italian ones far over sea. I sent the Doctor's last Note from Dublin round to Jenny at Kirtlebridge the other day; most probably she would shew it you; except his continued welfare and good prospects there was nothing in it. I wrote in answer to that; but he would not get my Letter, I think, till about Saturday last.

The Examiner was not sent to you yesterday, but round to him, that he might forward it to you, with his mark on it, I hope. There is an attack in it on the “Condition-of-England Question,” wherein the Editor, without naming me, does me the honour to be in a considerable vexation at the thing I have said, and set others in the way of saying and doing!1 From a respectable housedog, stationed there to bark in behalf of the present Ministry, nothing better could be desired. The people are beginning to discover (wise men as they are!) that I am not a “Tory,” ah no; but one of the deepest tho' perhaps the quietest of all the radicals now extant in the world; a thing productive of small comfort to several persons! “They have said, and they will say, and let them say” &c. &c.

Yesterday the idle portion of the Town was in a sort of flurry owing to the marriage of little Queen Victory. I had to go out to breakfast with an ancient Notable of this place, one named Rogers the Poet and Banker; my way lay past little Victory's Palace, and a perceptible crowd was gathering there even then, which went on increasing all the time till I returned (about one o'clock); streams of idle gomerils [blockheads] flowing in from all quarters, to see one knows not what,—perhaps Victory's gilt coach and other gilt coaches drive out, for that would be all! It was a wet day too, of bitter heavy showers, and abundant mud: I steered, by a small circuit, out of their road altogether, and except the clanking of some bells in the after part of the day heard no more of it.2 Poor little thing, I wish her marriage all prosperity too;—but it is her business, not mine. She has many enemies among the Tories, who report all kinds of spiteful things about her; she seems also to have abundance of obstinate temper, and no great overplus of sense:3 I see too clearly great misery lying in store for her, if she live some years; and Prince Albert, I can tell him, had got no sinecure by the end! As for him, they say he is a sensible lad; which circumstance may be of much service here: he burst into tears, in leaving his little native Coburg, a small quiet town, like Annan for example; poor fellow, he thought I suppose how he was bidding adieu to quiet there, and would probably never know it any more, whatever else he might know.

Today however we have bright weather; good for invalids! That is always the alternation: bright and black; never eight-and-forty hours alike: bad weather I do imagine for all sorts of field work. So soon as it fairly dries, I will have my horse again; it will do me decided good. Neither Jane nor I are specifically complaining: yet she for one is by no means strong; being incapable of getting out in such weather, she cannot be vigorous. Our quality being now all back to Town, there is far more tumult too: I keep as much as possible out of all that; and design to accept the fewest possible number of invitations this way or that; no good comes to me from such: a dinner with Victory and Albert even would hardly be worth having, at the cost of such a head as I have next day! My time, do what I can, gets itself dreadfully frittered away here; I think it no good place for a Writer to be in,—if he could get his living in any other. Proofsheets and etceteras go weltering on; the Printers proceed far more slowly than I wish; but we must not put ourselves in fash [worry] about them; they will be done one day or other.

Jamie I suppose would receive the Letter I sent him. What progress has Alick made in the matter of the Tobacco? I should like well to hear that he had it lying by him with permits4 &c, ready for despatch: my stock here is waning away fast enough. The Glasgow Pipes have never yet come, tho' all the parties interested seem to say they will come directly; I have never yet absolutely got thro' my old stock, tho' long hanging on the verge of that.

Now, dear Mother, why do you not take a sheet any day, and writing on it, “Dear Tom, I am so and so,” send it off to me? I hope you continue tolerably well, in spite of all roughness of Spring weather: but you ought to make a point now, I think, of telling me so, very often. I can do nothing for you but ask; the more is the pity! But yet it is a blessing that except our affection you do not need anything from any one. Do you often get over to see Jenny, now when she is near? I suppose the weather is too wild as yet; but it will gradually mend now. Austin, I vote, should bring up the Pony, and drive you down in the Gig to see Gill, when the sun breaks out. They will be in a heap of confusions till once the new house be up and the premises clear.— Are Alick's people young and old got well out of small-pox? He might write me on a bit of paper to say Yes.—

I live down stairs now in the room that was Jack's (poor Jack, I feel as if I had inherited him); we breakfast there; and then the fire being already lighted, I occupy the place with close doors till I like to go out for walking. Jane is upstairs, or she would, in express words, send you her love. My love in word and in thought to one and all! Good be with you dear Mother!

T. Carlyle