January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 5 April 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430405-TC-MAC-01; CL 16: 112-114


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, 5 April, 1843

My dear Mother,

I will send you a little Bulletin today, tho' there has nothing new fallen out, that you do not know of; I ought to tell you expressly so, when there is nothing else to tell.

Our bad easterly weather has given place to rain, and that again is about issuing in sunshine: Jane, always when the easterly wind is blowing, gets back the old ‘pain in the right side’ (it is something in the liver, we understand); and always when the westerly wind and warm weather takes up its tale, she recovers again. In general she is much better than in some or most former years. She is very quiet; and tho' her Mother's death dwells constantly with her, I think, yet it is now in a quieter form, and does not tear her in pieces as it did. I hope the sorrow indeed has done her good: we ought all to know, and be taught even by severe suffering and stripes, that our possession is not in this world; that very truly it is all a poor shadow that we did or do or can possess in this world.— John Welsh at Liverpool had a kind of palsy-stroke, not unlike what poor Mrs Welsh's was, and in the month of February just as hers was: it frightened them all very much; but he is now for the present getting well again.

As to me I do not feel that this Book has hurt me so much as Books are wont to do: I fancy I shall be able for another in shorter interval than the last was. I was terribly cut up with the French Revolution; I should not like to get such a shaking again, if I could help it!— There has been a great deal of ugly trouble getting the American Copy made fairly out; I had it all to examine minutely, to correct &c, and was heartily sick of it: but happily, last saturday, I got it all fairly tied up, and despatched once for all to Alick Welsh at Liverpool; and now it is tumbling about, on the waste Ocean waves, in the Boston Steamer;—and the people may make of it what they can, when it arrives. If the New-York man manage again to steal it from us,—he shall have the next on still readier terms: he will save me a world of fash [trouble] at any rate!— In some two weeks now, I think, the Book will be about ready; and your Copies, we may hope, will get along to you by the beginning of May. It is a fiery enough Book; and speaks home into the heart of many a big-wigged looking thing,—the big-wigged thing can take it as it likes! I wish now, we were upon something else, and had that fairly all lying behind us.

Jack wrote to you, I understand, that his present engagement1 was going to terminate; suddenly the end of it has come in sight. We cannot profess here that we are sorry for it: plenty of money did come in, but the rest was all an unmitigated stupidity; the ugliest work I have seen any man of abilities set to spend his days in doing. Jack has already plenty of money to live upon where and how he likes; he need not be anybody's slave, at any price whatever. I rather think too he has improved himself somewhat in this long dealing with these foolish things and persons, where his own wisdom, courage and decision such as it might be, had to form the basis of whatever good result would realise itself: I think I notice him more silent, more angry,—more like working, and conquering difficulties, than he used to be! He will fall on some useful thing by and by. A great deal of talent lies wasted in poor Doil,2—all trampled out of sight, in the scattery way of life he has had. My notion, too, is that, at bottom, he feels glad enough to be off from this Ogilby concern; but that as a volunteering to cast away such a salary, he durst hardly have ventured upon freeing himself from it: and now behold, by indifferent Destiny, without fault or without merit of his, he is freed! By a Note from yesterday, I find they have paid him up all his salary, and a quarter over and above, which is a very handsome way of winding up the business. Jack talks as if he would have a “run,” or bit of travelling, in some direction or other, by way of shaking the thing out of his head.—

Jane's “poor woman,” of whom I wrote to you last time, turns out to be a poor creature that brought on her woes by drink! At least so the Clergyman's Wife, who is a most charitable lady, but somewhat swift of judgement, assured Jane. Jane determines to continue her gifts,—in the shape of soup &c; the poor woman, drunken or not, is dying, as John says on examining her; a great part of her lungs already wasted away. The miseries of poor mortals are many, in this world!

Jenny sent me a small Letter from Gill; which I neglected to answer at the time; being terribly busy. She was expecting to be instantly summoned to Dumfries; but perhaps is not gone yet. Will you thank her for her little missive till I get time for more.

Alick may, for aught I know, bring over this Letter too himself; and help you to read it. In any case, you can remind him again, of my brotherly heart-sympathy with him; my prayer that he may be led to decide for what is wisest, and my readiness to farther him in whatever he may deliberately judge to be such. Jack is not making money as he was; but there is money among us yet; and surely in such a case it ought to be ready!—— Jamie gets a Newspaper today: a Letter by and by. We send our kind wishes and regards to Isabella. It is long, dear Mother, since I read your hand, is it not? All good be with you, dear good Mother; take care of yourself, and we will all love you! Your affectionate

T. Carlyle