The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 21 May 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410521-TC-MAC-01; CL 13: 136-140


Chelsea, 21 May (Friday), 1841—

My dear Mother,

After I had determined on writing you a line today, there has arrived a little Note from Alick, which I am heartily glad of. He reports that you are still doing well, that you can “come over to sermon” (he does not say whether on your own feet or not,—but indeed I hope you do not try to walk so far), that you are gradually “recruiting”; and that all the rest are in their old state. Such a Note, now that they cost but a penny, would be welcome oftener!— I will persist in writing to you; I will thank Alick, and write to him another time.

It is precisely a fortnight now, I think, since I wrote last; the day after my return hither. It seems a much longer time to me; for I have had a great many things in my head; have lived almost altogether by myself; and, except one morning when we had to breakfast with Milnes my Yorkshire landlord and a party of his,1 I have gone out only once, to meet the good Thomas Erskine, and declined all other outrakes [expeditions] whatsoever. I very rarely even go into London town; the roaring tumult of the streets in this May month rather does me ill to look upon it; I prefer the lanes and gardens to the westward, where I can get my own thought followed, and only hear the Babylon from afar. For a good many days I felt rather worse for my journey, and seemed not to be in haste to recover completely,—such a sad business is all travelling to me: this week, however, I am fully got round again, and altogether as well as when you saw me. Jane has sorted up for me a pleasant little back closet, where I sit all morning, refusing to see anybody, even to open a Letter, till “my own work” be over: here I look out over pleasant spaces, gardens, even a field, and many green tall trees, which hide almost all the bricks; all noise too is damped, and I feel as if I were alone, no neighbour but the great heavenly Summer and its leaves and flowers! I am reading a long German Book about Luther;—endeavouring withal to settle a great many burbled [tangled] accounts with my own unworthy Self and its concerns! Would the weather always continue so, my health would do very well, and I could not be better than here. When the heat comes, however, I suppose I must run for it; and the question, Whitherward? is still undetermined.2

Ben Nelson wrote to me about that “Lodge” house, rent £26; but I could not on the spur of the moment answer Yes; I answered, No, therefore and do not yet regret that. James Stewart has also written to me about the Glen Mansion, That the Marquis3 wished us to come, would have no rent &c, &c; all which are comfortable circumstances; yet I doubt whether we should do well under the wing even of the best of Marquises, and have not yet decided. I answered, for the time, that they were to let all stand as it was at Glen Stewart; to accept many handsomest thanks (which so kind a thing merited); and that before the middle of June we would either say Yes or No. Jane is willing to go thither with me, or anywhither. Then, about a week ago, our Welsh Friend,4 he of the leg-of-mutton, called on us; a brisk, modest, very kind-looking; he was most earnest to have us into his beautiful sea-coast of Wales; so “silent,” so &c; and where he kept an excellent horse and never used it,—very much at my service! Our own nearest sea-coast is about Brighton, only some sixty miles off; which nearness is a great temptation. On the whole we know not what to decide as yet; and often I think of my dear Mother's wish as the only good one: “I wish thou may be guided to choose wisely!” So be it. We ought to be very thankful, meanwhile, that we can choose. I am not without money enough for present wants: the Americans too have sent me back £100 which I ventured on them in the French Revolution matter some two years ago,—so that I have now my own money back again at any rate, and they may keep their promise of more if they can. The Lecture Book has come out there, not on my account: an impudent Bookseller of New York forestalled the good Emerson; set it out for his own profit, and even defended the deed, and said he meant to do so with all works of mine in future. As to the “future,” however, we have a plan for him. This time he does his own way, poor hungry man. Nay Emerson says, They have printed me in a huge newspaper at Boston (a sheet almost like a barndoor), and sell me for three-pence! Better so than worse.— Poor Fraser cannot give me his accounts at present (which I wanted to have, as one important item in my plans): he is ill of a lingering dangerous sickness, which has made him very weak at present; and I cannot press the poor man.5

Jack dines with us every sabbath: I do not see much of him at other times; he gallops about with his Patient, is here and is there, all in a flaff [flutter], and I daresay rather avoids my grim countenance till he have got himself composed a little! He seems well, and in very good spirits; doing well with his Patient too; only unhappy in being anxious at bottom that he is properly not working, but mainly idling—at very high wages.6 He was to write to Isabella about her complaint; which he seemed to believe like me to proceed entirely from the stomach. He has got for his Mother the Book on Luther and his Times,7 which will interest her: poor Doil8 after all! He has sat a second time for his Portrait by a strange machine they have got here, called Daguerrotype,9 which fixes the shadow of one (a small faint miniature image of one's very face) on a little bit of clear metal: the strangest of our new inventions, I think, and prettiest Jane already got one such shadow from him; the other, I imagine, he means for you. Jane tried for one of herself; but it was “horrible” (they do not always succeed, or yet understand the ways of the thing): she will not go back, she says; neither need I go.

All men are lashing and talking Politics here: Corn-laws, change of Ministry &c &c. It is likely that the Parliament will be dissolved in a few weeks; not unlikely that the whigs will nevertheless be turned out; and as good as certain that even Peel himself will have to shove the Corn-laws aside before long.10— Yesterday that “Speech” came to me; you may read it with some interest: I know nothing about the man. The other letter is flattery to the mast-head: read what you can of it, and then burn it.—Has Jamie got his potatoes planted now? How is Isabella, how are you and they all! Write me a word yourself, dear Mother, if no other will. Our blessing with you all.

Your affectionate /

T. Carlyle

Jane is pretty well she sits down stairs, receives all the visitors &c! She sends her love to you and all the rest. I consider myself to owe Jenny a bit of a Letter; having gone without taking leave of the little dame.

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