August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 24 April 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470424-TC-MAC-01; CL 21:201-203.


Chelsea, 24 April, 1847—

My dear Mother,—There has a little Note come from Jean this morning; for which, with its good tidings, I am heartily obliged to her. Say, with our thanks, that I will pay in good time;—thank Jenny also for her punctual little Message,—only tell her, I pray you, to get some blacker ink, for one can hardly make out what the writing is in that faint sky-blue!— To all my kind creditors I will pay in time: but in the meanwhile they remind me that I meant to write you a half word today; and that I will now do; which the others also can take for a kind of interim answer.

I duly replied to Alick by the American Packet; wrote about his copy of Cromwell, too, to Mr Greig. The answer about his little new purchase of land, was, after consulting with John, in the way of encouragement, to proceed if he himself saw good. The purchase-money was to be ready here; and he might look upon it as a loan, if he liked it better that way; the repayment, I promised, would never put him to the horn for delay.— Poor fellow, if it can do him any real good, it were but a small favour, and well worth doing, to give that little help, in the form of loan or in any better form. He has a rigorous earnest life, over in his new home yonder; but I believe he is really doing well in it,—not making money perhaps, but making out a manful industrious existence, which is better.

We have still very fierce weather; of quite extraordinary coldness for the day of the month; there has been but one truly genial day yet, that I recollect; and none of the trees are yet in full leaf. I often think anxiously how my poor Mother is getting on, in so unfavourable a temperature: it can agree well with nobody, that continual affliction to the Skin. Keep yourself warm; do not stir out at night or too early! I think it will be as well if you leave Scotsbrig alone till the leaves and the sunshine are fairly come? One has but little resource there when the weather commands imprisonment within doors.1— We hear there is everywhere a crop sown in the best circumstances, and looking well so far as it has come; the promise everywhere, they say, of a good harvest but a late one. That will be a great blessing, for the poor Irish and others! But a still greater would be some better harvest of truth and good sense, for the next and coming years: as I have often said, it is not potatoes that they want nearly so much as honesty among them; poor wretches, sitting idle, in the midst of famine, in this blessed seedtime once more offered them: idle, and won't strike a spade into the ground, “for the Landlords will seize it all for rent”! The Landlords and Landtillers together have made a precious practical veracity out of it, between them! The Sun, I believe, never saw such another. What is to become of it no man yet knows; the wisest men are the least disposed to guess.— —

Jack was here last night; going off to hear some “Lecture,” which he wanted me to attend: but I was asleep on the sofa upstairs, after dinner, and there was no time to be lost; so the Doctor went by himself, without sight [of]2 me. He is always busy, among Books &c &c, and sails about among many acquaintances, of which the Town, for him and for everybody, is getting fuller and fuller at this season. Perhaps he will yet get something reasonable to do, poor fellow: in the meanwhile, he is well, and by no means unhappy.3 Doubtless he meditates a return to Scotland by and by, perhaps before very long.

My own head is full of all manner of things, and my heart too: I know not how they will come out yet;—out they must be, by and by, I suppose, if life be granted me. There is no other trade for me: there was never more need of such a trade, I think!— I endeavour to avoid, as much as can be suitable, all dinners &c, which are very rife at this season, but do not answer for me at all. In general I find it best to be silent, to be solitary, were it never so sad. I have Books &c,—and tolerably good tobacco! I find also that I have an abundantly recognised position among my fellow creatures here,—a far higher one indeed than I deserve, or can make use of, as I ought;—“hold thy peace, and look around thee!” Goethe says.4

Jane has finished her house-furniture; most excellent glazed calico splendours indeed! “A top needlewoman, Mr Cairlayle!” She does not like the cold; but holds out well against it ever since spring came. We have boiled the Shank of the Ham: it is excellent in all forms;—daily diminishes at breakfast in these mornings,— I am amused with Jean's “Prickmydainty [too finical person]” and his drawing-school;5 many a time he has brought a laugh up in me since that interview to which James took me.— Dear Mother, here is the end of this second leaf too! I really must not write any more. Blessings be with you all.

T. Carlyle