August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE; 9 November 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18461109-TC-JC-01; CL 21:89-91.


Chelsea, 9 Novr, 1846—

Dear Jamie,

The meal affair is now settled, the quantity wanted is nine stones; we have long been desirous of Scotsbrig butter: so pray send us off the whole Package as soon as you can conveniently get it ready. We have ourselves almost given up all Supper here, except a cup of hot milk with a crumb of bread; but we wish to have a possibility of porridge too, when wanted; one third part of the meal, therefore, is for ourselves; the other two parts are for the Barings and the Ashburtons respectively,—illustrious people in behalf of whom we doubt not the Satter Miller will do his very best! They eat a small fraction of oatcake, and have no reasonable meal (nor indeed much skill to make it) in their uncivilized country. I suppose it will come best in a sack; and we can get two small bags here, for the division of it. If the saddle and bridle will pack handsomely, they also can be sent; but if not, do not mind; I have no prospect of using them at present, or of more than laying them up in safety. My Mother, also, can enclose one pound of good well-smelling brown soap,—our “mottled soap” here is insupportable for smell.— This is the sum of the order for the present. Jane thinks we may need about 50 lbs of Butter, somewhat less than a Firkin; but does not seem to be very positive: call it 50 if that is less? And so enough.

We have got home again, as you would find by the letter to the Doctor; we are very quiet; and not at all going thro' much work,—I am in fact resting on my tools at present; and in no haste to begin brashing and smashing again! If I live I suppose there will be need to fasten-to again, and another Book must be attempted by and by.— Our weather is very sharp; generally dim-coloured, tho' today is sunny with dry east-wind; our health is very fair, better I think than common on both sides. I have completely learned to eat Indian-meal much, and take it daily with my mutton at dinner: it is very easily made, just like oatmeal porridge—first; but in place of eating it as porridge, you tie it up in a cloth, and boil it (on the edge of the fire) for 5 or even 7 hours longer; it is then very fair stuff indeed, and by much the wholesomest I can get for the purpose. The longer it is boiled, I think it becomes the better. You may boil a great mass of it once a week; for the second and following days, you merely tie up the due portion in its cloth, and boil it so as to be all hot: it is fully better than on the first day, better for the new boiling. A really serviceable article; for it will combine kindly with almost any sort of kitching;1 with meat-gravy, with pepper, milk, butter “molasses,” and I doubt not, “oils,” and onions and almost any savoury substance whatever. The natural price of it in New York is about a halfpenny a pound (say three farthing with profit here), and it is equal in nutritive virtue to oatmeal,—which is to wheat-flour as 10 is to 15 in that respect. I understand the meal will not keep long without spoiling. The price here is 2d a pound at present! They have bread of it too on sale; yellow as guineas, and not unsavoury to the taste; but being as dear as wheaten bread, of course it is only for the sake of experiment that anybody buys it.— If the potatoes have utterly departed, as I think seems very likely, this will in all probability become the substitute for them. Let us be thankful for it.

I have sent to Hugh M'Kinnow at Hawick an order for two Union Dresses, warm winter under-clothings for my Mother: he is to send them to Scotsbrig as soon as he can; I hope he will not neglect or delay. I owe my Mother a Letter by and by, which I will pay: in the meantime let me beg you all to be careful of her, to urge her to take care of herself,—to keep a warm fire, and not venture out into this rude weather.

Isabella, it gratifies us to hear, is still pretty well, far better than she once was: let her also beware of the winter cold.— This season, I suppose, must be a good one for Farmers' prices if for nothing else! Dear Brother, I commend your honest energy, fidelity and industry, which are the glory of a man in all spheres of life; I pray for all blessings on you; and am ever

Your affectionate

T. Carlyle