TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 30 May 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340530-TC-MAC-01; CL 7:194-199.
TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE
4. Ampton Street, London, 30th May 1834— / (Friday Morning)
My Dear Mother,
If you received the Newspaper, which I sent off two days ago, you would in all probability notice the covert announcement of this on it: I omitted the two strokes to make you look for something else. And now here is the Frank; and a full sheet, and willing pen! Nothing but the heart is required, and that shall not be wanting.
Since yesterday afternoon, when Jane's new Letter came, I am in a much better position; I know rightly what I am doing, what I have to look for: the poor Goodwife is probably at this moment sitting with Mary in the Battery Mansion at Annan, waiting till the tide flow; Alick or some other with her to see the embarkation completed. By this time tomorrow, if all go well, she will be sitting (probably less at her ease) in Liverpool; and in a few days longer, I shall have her here, and this weary perplexed business of Flitting will like all other businesses come to an end. Among the many things she is to bring me, news from Scotsbrig, of which hitherto except by silence I am quite destitute, will not be the least welcome.
My dear Mother! How often have I thought of you since we were parted; in all varieties of solemn moods, only seldom or never in a purely sad and painful one! My most constant feeling is one not without a certain sacredness: I determine to live worthily of such a Mother; to know always, like her, that we are ever in our great Taskmaster's eye,1 with whom are the issues not of Time only, which is but a short vision, but of Eternity, which ends not, and is a reality. Oh that I could keep these things forever clear before me; my whole prayer with regard to Life were granted.— But these things also should not make us gloomy or sorrowful: far from that. Have we not, as you often say, “many mercies”? Is not the light to see that they are mercies, the heart to be thankful for them the first and greatest of these?— Here is a Frank, for example, whereon to talk with you at my leisure: is not that a mercy for us both? I promise you, if I prosper, there shall be many such.
Since I wrote Jane's Letter, which I hope she read to you last night, there has nothing in the least memorable turned up. I have been wandering about in search of houses; yet with a feeling that I was doing little good; that till Jane arrived there could be almost nothing farther done. The more welcome was the news yesterday that she was actually under way. We have still the great Chelsea House before us, and the Brompton Cottage, and enow of others: there seems no doubt but we shall get a very tolerable place, fully as cheap as we expected. The first Frank, I said, from our new house was to be for you: do not consider this hasty scrawl as any fulfilment of that promise; for I mean still to fulfil it to the letter. Probably before this day three weeks, I may have my firm old Table set up somewhere; and my kind Mother shall have news of me.
Meanwhile assure yourself, dear Mother, that all goes well. In regard to health, this incessant toil, and even irregular living seems to agree with me; I take no drugs, I really feel fresher and stronger than I used to do amid the moorlands. Moreover, I never was farther in my life from “tining [losing] heart,” which I know well were to “tine all.”2 Not a bit of me! I walk along these tumultuous streets with nothing but a feeling of kindness, of brotherly pity towards all: no loudest boasting of man strikes any the smallest terror into me for the present: indeed, how should it, when no loudest boasting and threatening of the Devil himself would? He nor they “cannot hinder thee of God's Providence.”3 No, they cannot.—— In fact, the good people here are mournfully in want of teachers; readier too, I think, for listening to a teacher than most others are: I feel a persuasion that some kind and profitable relation will establish itself between us; above all, I have the clearest certainty that if work is appointed me here to do, it must and will be done, and means found for doing it. So fear nothing, my dear Mother! Tom will endeavour not to disgrace you in this new position more than in others.
I have seen some Book-publishing persons, some “literary men” also; of all whom my opinion continues much as it was. The great proportion are indubitablest Duds; these too we must let pass, and even welcome when they meet us with kindliness. By far the sensiblest man I see is Mill, who seems almost fonder of me than ever. The class he belongs to has the farther merit of being genuine and honest so far as they go: I think it is rather with that class that I shall connect myself than with any other; but still in many important respects I have to expect to feel myself alone. Charles Buller is grown a very promising man; likely to do good in the world, if his health were only better, which as yet hampers him much. He evidently likes me well, as do all his household; and will be a considerable pleasure to me. I was dining there, as hinted in Jane's Letter; it was this day week: I saw various notable persons, Radical Members, and such like; among whom a young very rich man named Sir W. Molesworth pleased me considerably:4 we have met since, and shall probably see much more of one another. He seems very honest; needs or will need guidance much; and with it, may do not a little good. I liked the frank manners of the young man, so beautiful in contrast with Scottish Gigmanity; I pitied his darkness of mind, and heartily wished him well. He is, among other things, a vehement smoker of tobacco! This Molesworth is one of the main men that are to support (with hard cash, if no otherwise) that Radical Review of theirs; with which it seems likely that I may rather heartily connect myself, if it take a form I can do with. The rest of the Reviews are sick and lean; ready for nothing, so far as I can see, but a gentle death. I also mean to write a new Book; and in a serious enough style, you may depend on it: by the time we have got the flitting rightly over, I shall have settled what and how it is to be. Either on the French Revolution, or John Knox and our Scottish Kirk!
By dint of incessant industry I again got to see Edward Irving; and on Saturday last, spent two hours with him. He seemed to have wonderfully recovered his health, and I trust will not perish in these delusions of his. He is still a good man; yet wofully given over to his idols; and enveloped, for the present, and nigh choked, in the despicablest coil of cobwebs ever man sat in the midst of. He is four miles from this place; removed into one of the suburbs (near where we are to live) for two months: nevertheless I will insist on seeing him again ere long.
Mrs Strachey I have seen some three times; but not in very advantageous circumstances: she is the same true woman she ever was; indignant at the oppressing of the poor, at the wrong and falsehood with which the Earth is filled; yet rather gently withdrawn from it, and hoping in what is beyond it, than actively at war with it. She has not yet found Miss Morris; whom I should like very well to see. In a word, my dear Mother, all persons are very kind to me; I am of good good heart and health: what more could I wish to tell you at present?
Turning my eyes now towards Annandale, there is already so much that I want to know, and can only guess at, till I see Jane. Is it rightly settled who is to take charge of writing to me here? Let them, as they value the good report of their conscience, lay that to heart! I fear now that Jean is away I shall be too indifferently served. The Newspaper (I mean the Courier) Jean may still read, and Alick too; but I must have it sent hither from Scotsbrig with some mark on it, every week: if put in at Ecclefechan on the Thursday (or at Lockerby), it will be here on Saturday; and I can send it back again if any one farther wants it. But perhaps Jane has settled all that already. We shall hear when she comes. The Examiner, or something equivalent to it, I hope to continue to get; and send you sooner than you used to receive it. Have you heard yet that the Ministry is broken up; and a new one (more Radical than the other) getting itself together?5 Few men can be more indifferent to that matter than I. It is also said here that his Majesty (poor man) has gone out of his wits.6 As I came hither, I met in Staffordshire a long Trades' Union in procession (and said “Steady!” to them, as the drill serjeants do): one little limb of a Business that is covering the whole Empire.7 So that putting all together, there is a pretty kettle of fish! Happily it is not we that have to cook it.
But the thing I had to say was that the people here have been flitting for a fortnight, and now tomorrow I must flit along with them, into the next street: “47. Frederick Street, Grey's Inn Road”; that continues to be the address till you hear farther. By the bye, I asked already for a Scotsbrig Newspaper, and got none: had you none? With my good Mother I am well sure, the fault, if fault there was, did not lie.— I wrote to Jack, and directed him how in the meanwhile to write to me. Your kind messages were all, as far as possible, faithfully sent.
Now, my dear Mother, can you read this Letter? Tho' you cannot, let not that discourage you: persevere rigidly, and it will grow as easy to you as print. I assure you, it will. Only read it over and over, the whole will get quite familiar to you. There is also nothing to hinder your writing to me with your own hand. You have only to begin and take time and patiently do your best, and you will positively do it well enough.
Have you ever been on Harry yet? I hope the little Stool8 will carry you well: if he do not, woe befal him. You must not stay much at home for some time: go about among them; the motion itself will do you good. Above all, I like well to think of you as enjoying Seabathing with poor Mary: the Sea is so strengthening always; Mary is so kind and warm-hearted. I think you should go there, as soon as the new House (where I figure them all as arranging and sorting at present) is in a state of readiness. From Alick you will get edifying conversation, free air, and kindheartedness enough, “capon” tho' he be. Tell him, tell them all, as they value my blessing to be good to you! Were I once settled, I will send you some Books and etceteras, if the Dumfries conveyance still hold good; Jean can take charge of them. Surely it will all [be] well! Jack and I, if it please merciful Providence, will return and find you all doing well. May God [grant] it!
Since I began this last Leaf, the Chelsea man has been here about his House we were talkin[g of.] He seems a very reasonable little body; it is not unlikely we may make a bargain with him, for rea[lly] his house is by far the cheapest and best. But nothing is to be settled till Jane arrive.
I designed to write my good Alick a word today, but cannot now manage it, for I have Jane also to write to; and the Post-hour advances. Tell Alick so, and that he shall soon hear from me.— Did you get all the things you wanted from Craigenputtoch? Jane mentions several; but not the Kettle; on which last I fitted a wooden handle the day before I came off, expressly for your use!
This is a sad rambling Letter; but you “must just excuse us.”9 The next we hope will turn out better. Give my love to every one at Scotsbrig; the love of a Brother. Wish Jamie all happiness in my name and the best happiness, a life of Faithfulness.10 When does Jenny go to Dumfries? She is to sing you a song for me sometimes. Tell Alick that I think they were very fell [efficient, energetic] at Puttoch, so far as I see. Kind remembrances to Mary and Jean and their Households: tell them to behave well till I come and eat with them again. Take all care of yourself, my dear Mother. Pray to God for us all!
Ever your affectionate Son, /