The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 17 December 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18411217-TC-MAC-01; CL 13: 319-320


Chelsea, Friday, 17 Decr, 1841—

My dear Mother,

For the last week I have not known very well where you are. Jamie wrote to me from Scotsbrig that poor little Tom was very dangerously ill; and that you were to be sent for in the Gig as on Wednesday gone a week. He wrote to me afterwards the good news that Tom was much better, that you had been left to continue at Dumfries; where I will suppose you still to be. I hope you take care of yourself against this wild splashy ever-changing weather! Today and yesterday we have it very chill, frosty; oftenest it is drizzly damp, the streets all soapy;—a very inconstant, unpleasant sort of weather. Keep yourself warm and dry, dear Mother! Mrs Welsh writes to us that Nithsdale from her house is “more like sea than land”! She is not very well in health, and rather ill off otherwise, with a new maid, her old-established Mary having at length got her marriage with the Farmer Charles accomplished. She says that poor Mrs Glendinning (Mary Little) is very ill;1 not thought likely to recover. I am very wae to hear it. Alas, the distress of all kinds that pervades this country at present is frightful to think of. Comparatively are not we all right well off? Ought we not to be thankful for ourselves; to be eager to help others, so far as our ability will go?— —

My work here is of a confused and as yet under-ground kind; like a moudie's [mole's] work: we shall see by and by where it ever come up above ground! Today I am off to the Museum2 to search after certain books; I have not a moment to spare, indeed I would much rather make every moment into two if I could: but my dear Mother must have her little word from me nevertheless. I was at the Museum yesterday too, and got the usual “Museum headache,” as I call it, to come home with; but I hope to finish off there today for a time. I keep myself as quiet as a mousing cat; avoid seeing almost all people; and get along really tolerably well. “Go ahead! Ahead!” the Yankees say!

You may have noticed in the Newspapers some clatter about a Professorship at Edinburgh that some young men wish me installed in.3 I received last night the Scotsman which I address today to Jean, and also a Letter from the young requisitionists in question; the answer that I sent them this morning is copied and inclosed here. I bid them not publish my Letter, but insert some paragraph which will put an end to the idle talk, and let all persons understand that it is nothing.4 Their Professorship has no endowment of certain funds, but depends altogether on what I myself could make of it there. Of a truth, I will not, at this time of day, think of flitting thither for such an object! I can make a ten times better “Professorship” for myself wheresoever on either side of the Ocean I choose to turn up the bottom of a tub and say that I will speak from it. They and I shook hands some time ago.

Jack is well; comes down duly on Sunday nights when we smoke and talk together. Jane too holds out well. Excuse me again to the good Landlady5 where you are. Adieu, dear Mother,—in great haste. Your son