The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 18 May 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530518-TC-MAC-01; CL 28: 148-150


Chelsea, 18 May, 1853—

My dear Mother,

Here is already too long delay in writing; and I will not go out again with nothing in my pocket for you. A few words of news: alas, it is all I can do for my good old Mother; and a right welcome and pious duty and privilege at once! But one's time goes at a sad rate in this wild whirl of things; and goes so often in doing what one does not want, instead of what one does.

Jamie's small Letter was a great and welcome blessing to me: I have since heard from the Doctor too:—and now here is actual summer at last; and I trust my dear Mother is participating in it, and sensibly alleviated by the absence of those harsh outer elements. For 3 days now we have had the beautifullest May weather, real May at last; the wind is still easterly, but from the southern quarter as well, and not too much of it, with plenty of sun: if I could keep it from growing any warmer, that were just the sort for me: I have down my window blinds (the inner, not yet the outer which are ready), and today I have put off my fire. I expect to profit a little by this good change; and hope really it will do us all good.

Jane is gone off this forenoon (Wednesday) to visit the Sterling Girls (‘John's Daughters) who, with their eldest Brother now a farmer and 21 years old, are living at a nice country place called Headley; and have long been asking her out. For they are all very great with her, poor things; especially the second girl, Kate, who is a very brilliant clever lady, and like her Father in turn of mind,—and a beauty withal. Anthony Sterling, the Uncle, having such a Wife, was glad to get them placed out there. It is about 20 miles off; railway, and they were to meet her at the Station. She stays till Saturday, Nero & she; and I think it will be really pleasant for her, and do her some good to see the green budding country again, and be out of all these noises.— As for me, I “abide by the stuff”: if I could but manage to get a little work forward: but alas, that prospers very ill with me at present, much as I try! And in fact there is literally nothing else worth trying, or worth prospering in: I find that more and more.

Redwood, my Welsh friend, was here last night; rather deafish, very earnest, very friendly: poor soul, Jane gave him tea; and I recommended—to buy a pair of spectacles for one thing, as his eyes too were failing!— Glen's case, it is understood, goes on favourably; and I shall be disappointed if some little thing do not come out of it for the poor widow, in a month and half: “end of june,” is their term set. I got a very kind answer from the Duke of Argyll, to whom I had written on the matter; he promises to support the Petition as far as he can, really in a hearty-looking way: I sent the Note to Mrs Glen, that she might read it (in silence) and burn it. I have likewise written to two other Grandees, Lords Breadalbane & Albemarle;1—and this, I believe, is about all I can do in the matter, and will now patiently wait. Lord Stanley, I see, has some little hope about it, tho' he is a sceptical hard-tongued man, and his bark worse than his bite always. Very clever and shrewd, however. He had said to his wife one day (as she told me), “The chief ground after all will be that Carlyle is so intent upon it!” which is a great encouragement to Carlyle to be intent enough, then! I shall rejoice sincerely to be of any benefit to poor Mrs Glen for her own and her Husband's sake, with the worth in them both that was known to me of old.

The Bookseller Chapman (urged by another that was offering!) will now proceed to publish some of my best “Essays” (from the Miscellanies) as Railway Books “a shilling each”; probably about 10 in all; which will gradually bring me in some hard cash again (£200 when the thing is all executed) and afford poor readers a chance at reading something of that strange monster they have long heard of! Which is well.

Our Ham is now done: two of the best hams ever eaten,—tho' we began them too soon! Thanks to the kind Givers once more. Young Jamie I suppose is gone back to Glasgow: I suppose too Scotsbrig is a very busy place to the Husbandman in these fine days.

Give my love to all, old and young;—take care of yourself, dear Mother! I will write again in a few days. Your bad bairn