October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 3 March 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460303-TC-JAC-01; CL 20: 133-135


Chelsea, 3 March, 1846—

Dear Brother,

I want news again out of Annandale; it is not that I can promise you much or almost anything of my own, in such a confusion as I am still surrounded with! I believe I have a natural talent for being in a hurry; which is a very bad talent. I might go along much more leisurely at present: yet I am always in a bustle; always feel as if, except at the top of my speed I were not making any progress at all.— You must send me some farther tidings of Scotsbrig and my Mother, and what you are all about there: that is the purport of my writing at present. I wrote a hasty sheet to Alick today too, as well as many things else: and I wind up the night with this little word of request to you.

The Printers have got pretty well thro' the First Volume; have some of their men busy upon the second, I believe. I, for my part of it, am got into the second Invasion of Scotland as far as Dunbar Battle:1 I have clapt-in a variety of things; got the Supplement to First Editn &c organised: and on the whole seem as if I had the back of the work broken; as if after about a month more of fiking [bothering about trifles] and cobbling (in a most painful fasheous [troublesome] manner), I should have little left but to correct the Proofs that might remain. For my third volume is to have almost no change, that I yet know of. But something or other always starts up; and every new thing, is like fitting-in a new stave into a made stoup;2 an excessively unpleasant kind of work!—

I got your Copy of the Daily News: the only Copy I have yet seen of that Novelty. The Review seemed to me to be by Dickens;3 and was all very well and good-natured, poor little Schnüspel [silly fellow]! I did not hear any body whisper a word about it. Somebody told me the other day that he, Dickens, had quitted the Editorship of the Paper, being nearly worn to death by it; that Forster was now Editor; and on the whole that the concern was rather in a staggering state, as was supposed. Hardly anybody in our circle speaks of it at all.

Jane is gone up to Lady Harriet's tonight; the Lady sends her carriage of an evening for Jane, and they spend a couple of hours, talking, reading a thought of German (this I believe is rather rare), more frequently playing chess than doing German. Jane is sent home again between ten and eleven,—safe by the same conveyance.

Yesternight we were at dinner with old Mrs Marshall,—John Marshall's widow;4 an exceedingly dull party, which has kept me quite in a feverish state all day. Alas there was no Rausch [tipsiness] yesterday (for I did not enjoy it at all), and yet today there is Katzenjammer [hangover]! Milman & his Wife, Ld Monteagle, Spedding &c &c:5 not worth a headache at all! But there was no getting off; it was the good old Lady's first request on her reappearance here.

We were also at a Chorley dinner last week: frightful excitation, sputter-sputter;—which also and the headache that followed it there was no avoiding.— Happily I am now thro' all that; and have no more distractions of the kind to do for the present.

One of the best bits of news I can send you is That I have now really got some tolerable Tobacco for smoking! John Chorley discovered it at Liverpool; discovered that it was made in Bartholomew Close, London;—and now from the Artist in the City here, I have, not without difficulty and the aid of Wm Hamilton,6 got a stock of it. Black shag, cut almost as coarse as Knaster;7 really sound stuff, and not uncomfortable to smoke.

Our Corn-Law has to go thro' the Lords yet: the Commons Majority of 97 was far beyond anybody's expectation;8 it does not seem likely that the Tories will persist in the Lords to the uttermost extremity: but indeed I do not much care, for one! The chief influence it has on me is that of nearly insupportable tedium wherever I come athwart any of the talk about it: the thing is to be done; fiat [let it be done] then.

How is my good Mother standing the Spring weather? We have it wonderfully. … you were diligent. Tell her I will write to herself one of these days, the good true Mother!— You must also tell me how Isabella is, how Mary; what Jamie is doing; what you yourself think of your Dante enterprise now. Grahame sent me another Letter about Blake: pray answer for me That if the young man come here between 2 and 3 any day he shall have his fair chance, and see me if I be in.