October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


JWC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 25 September 1832; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18320925-JWC-MAC-01; CL 6:232-234.


[ca. 25 September 1832]

My dear Mother

I am not satisfied, it should be even so much as ‘whispered’ that I have been scared from Scotsbrig by the grate-Reform, or by any other cause. Surely I have come thro earthquakes enough in my time, and with ane honourabble thro' bearing,1 to have acquired a character on that head more unimpeachable. But to be sure the calumny was no invention of yours; but of younger heads less eminent for charity. It was the long journey I boggled at on the last occasion; being in a despairing mood at the time with want of sleep; and dearly I rued every hour of my Husband[']s absence that I had not accompanied him where if I must needs have been ill I might at least have been so without molestation. Another time we will do better!2

Carlyle is toiling away at the new article;3 and tho by no means content with the way he makes (when is he ever content?) still as you used to say what is down will not jump out again.4 In three weeks or so it will be done and then we come. I am certainly mended since you were here; but “deed Mrs Carle a's maist ashamed to sayt.” a[']s still weakly, and take no unusual fatigue without suffering for it. The toil and trouble I had about Betty did me a great mischief, which I have scarcely yet got over. for the rest that explosion has had no unpleasant consequence. The woman I got in her stead, on an investigation of three minutes, proves to be quite as clever a servant as she was whom I investigated for the space of three half years and rode, as I compute some hundred miles after. Deaf as a doornail the present individual has nevertheless conducted herself heretofore quite satisfactorily—except that Carlyle's silk handkerchief is occasionally in requisition (oftener I sometimes think than there is any visible cause) wiping off particles of dust; and once by awful oversight a small mouse-deed was permitted to insinuate itself into his bowl of porridge! We are not to keep her however, because of her deafness, which in any other place where her ears would be called into vigourous action, would make her the mere effigy of a servant— I get back the black button who was here when you came, who I know to be ignorant as a sucking child of almost every thing I require her to do; but whom I hope to find honest diligent good-humoured and moderately quick in the uptake.

I had a very kind letter from Mrs Montagu last week, reproaching me with forgetfulness of her.5 We have not heard from or of Jeffrey for a very long time; but he will certainly write on wednesday to acknowledge the repayment of his debt which, is a great load off our mind.

My Mother writes in great alarm about cholera which is at Penpont, within three miles of her. three persons have died. I have been expecting nothing else, and my dread of it is not greater for its being at hand. The Answer to all such terrors is simply what Carlyle said a year ago to someone who told him in London cholera is here— “When is death not here?”6