The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 6 May 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530506-TC-MAC-01; CL 28: 128-130


Chelsea, Friday 6 May 1853—

My dear Mother,

I got Jamie's Letter the night before last; which, tho' it did not bring the best of news, was welcome to me, as guarding from apprehensions that were worse. A Note of the Doctor's had prepared to hear that you were frailer than usual in this bad time. And indeed I do not wonder at it; for the weather continues really intemperate, and Summer will not come, but still lags arear. We had 24 hours soaking rain this week; and that, I thought, would usher in the West Wind; it started with bright North again; and today there is North without brightness, with a damp grey sky, and one of the wintriest outlooks one could see in May. Patience, dear Mother, and take care of yourself: there must and will be some improvement in all that, before long!—

We are haggling on here, in the old way, not worse; some carpenters, putting up window-blinds, bookshelves, &c, invaded us for a week; but they are gone, and now only two painters (in a vacant room upstairs, with the door shut) follow their trade, and are neither heard nor smelt to any extent at all,—don't even awaken me in the mornings, who am on the other side of a thin partition. I try to work a little, too; but cannot be said to get brilliantly on, certainly not!—

We went to a grand ball at Lady Stanley's the other night; very grand indeed, and “regardless of expense.” I found some people to speak to, and did not wholly weary; but was glad to get home again from such useless industry. Among others, I spoke to (got introduced to) Lord Breadalbane,—for the sake of poor Mrs Glen and her Petition chiefly. This great Scotch Lord is a very stout jolly fellow, with a thick strong body, big grey head (which he carries free in the air) and pair of brisk eyes in it,—a good deal like old “Wullie Beattie,” the Elder, of Hoddam,1 if he had been well cleaned up when about 55! He promised cheerfully to do what I requested in the Glen case;—and I have taken measures to hold him to his word.

This Glen case has in fact taken some of my time; one of the Letters (not yet burnt) with an enclosure I send you today, as no doubt you are interested in the course that business takes, and well remember poor Mrs Glen and the rest. I know not what the issue of the thing will be: but I am using all diligence; have got the Petition actually presented to Lord Aberdeen; hope to get the above Breadalbane, and the Duke of Argyll, to speak to him successively on the subject;—and on the whole, to work a small permanent addition to Mrs Glen's poor income,—she hast at present only £30 a-year, after all her travellings and toilings. The thing, it seems, is not likely to be decided till the end of June. So we must wait.— I do not grudge a little trouble in the matter, if I could make out anything, and good Mrs Glen (now grown 64 years of age) deserves it at my hands.

They are making a Sewer up our street here, to drain our impurities down into the river; and have made such a mess of the poor street as you never saw! Nothing but great ugly mounds of gravel dug out, and puddles of bricklayers, poles, bricks, and roman-cement going like street-mud. For the sewer is truly a work of art here. A big cut (I think almost 20 feet deep, at the lower end) is made first; then in the bottom of this is built, with all precautions, a complete barrel (or double arch, arch both in the bottom and top) of strong brickwork, where the water is to run; after which, with infinite rammings &c, they fill it up, and go their ways.— The thing is disagreeable while adoing; but it will be very useful when done: so again we must be patient. “Let us call on Patience”;2 truly she ought never to [be]3 out of call! I often think of that honest saying of my good old Mother's.

Fraser is come; and there is an Article about one of Knox's people (Kirkcaldy of Grange)4 which you will perhaps read,—also something about French Priests perhaps.5 I will send the Book soon.—Tell Jamie not to overwork himself! and thank young Jamie, and give my love to all.— Your affectionate T. Carlyle