August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE ; 30 November 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421130-TC-JC-01; CL 15: 210-212


Chelsea, 30 Novr 1842— / (Wednesday)

Dear Jamie,

I had your Letter a while ago, and meant to answer it; but my hurry in these days is always great; nor do I ever find myself at the writing-desk with a minute that can be spared from the unfortunate—Manuscript that is slowly struggling on! You must take a few words from me today; till I have leisure for more, when you write again.

Our good things in the Barrel ought to have been more particularly recognised. The meal is unsurpassable; has brought us back again to porridge suppers almost nightly. The Butter also is of the old excellence: I think there had been some forgetting of a cloth or the like to tie over the head of it,—for we found only in the neighbourhood of the pot certain cabbage leaves all shrunk, and a thin plate of meal coating the top of the butter: however, this too was well; Jane scraped off the meal-coat, baked it into a cake of oat shortbread, and the next stratum of butter was all fresh and fair!— I have had out Isabella's Plaid, as far as Hyde Park Corner; a most warm article: Jane now threatens to have it back again as the warmer! I hope I shall not forget to tell my Mother too that the Stockings are about the best I ever had. Alick's tobacco likewise is excellent, always the better! I wish I had a shop with the like here.— So on that side all, you see, is right every way.

I am very glad indeed to learn that you have for once had a reasonable crop and good season in Scotsbrig: I think, in spite of the low prices it will be a better one with you than the past have been. The time is fearful in all parts of this country. No improvement in trade is yet visible, tho' some hope this grand Chinese Pacification1 may do more or less. For my share I expect no steady improvement, till Corn-Laws and many other ‘Laws’ go to the place they belong to! It is surmised by many that Peel will have to make some new change in his Law of Sliding,2 this very year. Whatever he may do, it seems very certain the Corn-Laws have not now long to last. The Cattle-farmers are all in the greatest rage; the prices of Cattle are not likely to rise!— Nay the very Landlords, in some quarters, talk of bringing down their rent. That is the true way to “slide”; thither will they have to come, and much farther that they yet dream not of,—whether “sliding,” or by still more abrupt methods, like furniture “flung out of window,” they themselves can partly choose!— — Well; the remedy for all this, of so many fools and foolish miserable things is that each one of us struggle with his whole soul to grow wiser. There is absolutely no other course for us. As Wull Vary3 said or sang: “It will be better for thysel.”———

I have a word for my Mother; and a Letter which will give you John's news. We are very sorry to hear of poor Isabella's weakly condition; but anticipate an improvement by and [by].4 Jane sends you and her and the whole household affectionate regards. Write to me again, in the same firm Annandale style, with news or whatever else, and I will answer.

Your affectionate Brother /

T. Carlyle