January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 5 February 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420205-TC-AC-01; CL 14: 35-37


Chelsea, 5 feby, 1842—

Dear Alick,

Thanks for your little Letter; which was well worth writing. It is a pity not to take a little snip of paper and lay out a penny in such cases!

I had come to understand in some vague way that the unfortunate Hanning1 had sent tidings of himself, tho' I knew not of what kind. There came one day this week a huge Newspaper from New York, price 2 pence; the meaning of which was at first a mystery: but on looking more intently at the address (especially at a wrong spelling in it) I began to recognise the hand of poor Rob, and the truth dawned on me into conviction! Two days afterwards there came (I think, addressed by Jean from Dumfries—contrary to all laws of Postage!) a second American Newspaper called Newburgh Gazette:2 Jean, I suppose, had received that Note of Existence for her share.— There was a Letter from Jenny at Gill, last night along with yours; but at that time she had not received the Letter: indeed as I find on computing, she had not then had time.

The “head-ostlership,” tho' certainly none of the most brilliant appointments, will perhaps do as well as a better one for such a luckless Gomeral [fool]. He has proved himself unfit to be a master in any sort, master even of himself: it will literally be good for him that he be a servant, and kept safe in subjection, till he learn a variety of essential things. His appointment to that servile condition, if he execute it well, may really be the beginning of good to him. Jenny, I hope, has no idea of venturing so far away on that basis, till she see farther!—

You are right in supposing that I am and have been very busy. I have begun a kind of Book on Oliver Cromwell, and know not how in the world I shall get it written.3 Nay it is not properly begun yet (for I burn all that I write); but I must begin it, and must end it. I shall have a terrible fight, for I know not how long;—and be a poor correspondent, I doubt, but will get your excuses as before.

I wrote to my Mother this day week;—or rather she got my Note this day week. I here enclose you the answer above spoken of. In a most small note of Jenny's addressed to the Doctor, which I retain for tomorrow, Jenny says our Mother “has been poorly”: what is this? Jenny adds that she is “now better.” I wish I heard more especially, more minutely.

Jane stands the wild weather we have had better than I have often seen her do. I too go grumbling along, take large walks into the country, keep myself silent, do the best I can to get work out of myself!— On Saturday last, as you will perhaps hear otherwise, Jack and I were, among a crowd of people, presented to His Majesty of Prussia!4 Did you ever hear the like?—

When you write to Leith you had better bid those Wine-merchants5 send us a dozen of port and a dozen of sherry, of a kind they can call genuine: it might, as I now find, be no bad wine at the price you mentioned; our merchants here are enormously over-dear. These people seem very respectable; their brandy, which we have now fairly tested, is excellent.— Dear Alick, not a word more. It is past three, and I must out. Affectionate salutations to your own household, to Scotsbrig and the rest. Ever yours

T. Carlyle