October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 12 September 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340912-TC-MAC-01; CL 7:292-296.


5. Cheyne Row, 12th September, 1834—

My Dear Mother,

I sent you a Frank, with an American Letter in it, and plenty of news from myself: this (as I have lately learned, from Mill, thro' whose hands it went, that it was detained a whole week) you can only very lately have got hold of; perhaps only the other day. So unless you chanced to notice the little obscure annotation in the last Examiner, you are probably in some surprise as to what I can want with you again so soon. Be not alarmed, dear Mother; it is nothing wrong; rather something right; good news, and a small piece of business, which also comes with the shovel and not with the rake.1

John sends me a Letter2 two days ago, with tidings in it that he is well, of which I shall say more by and by; and farther with notice that I am to go and receive for him, at a Banker's here, a sum of £130, and dispose of the same afterwards in such a manner as I see best. This money I accordingly went and laid hands on today (6 or 7 miles eastward from here, in what is called “the City”); and having considered of the matter beforehand, I went straightway, and paid it into another Bank here, that has dealings with the Commercial Bank of Dumfries, with orders that they were to pay it to you there; after which you shall see soon how it is to be disposed of, What you have to do is this.

Go, on or after wednesday first, to the Commercial Bank, with James Aitken, or my Uncle John, or any one whose face is known there; and ask them if they have directions to pay “Mrs Margaret Carlyle, Scotsbrig, One hundred and thirty Pounds on the part of Mr Thomas Carlyle”? They will look in their papers, and (if the notice have come without delay, as I think it must) they will answer, Yes; and hand you a sheet with writings on it; at a particular part of which you are to “sign your initials” (“M.C.” no matter how written), and thereupon they will make a movement to table you the cash: you will say, however, that you do not want this; that you want a Deposit Receipt for it, in the name of “Dr John Carlyle, Rome,” and to have it marked on the back that the interest is payable to you; exactly, you remember, as the former Receipt ran, which you have now,—tho' only at Scotsbrig, I suppose. If you had it quite ready at Dumfries, perhaps the simplest method would be to make them pay you up what interest is due on it, and then give you one Receipt for both the new and the old stock: however, this is not worth waiting about; and, I suppose, you will be terrified to have so much “fixed capital” lying for a day in your hands. In any case, one way or the other, you and James will settle the business in few minutes; and come out with your new Receipt, and new claim for “annual, f'r a' that,”3 which will be honoured whenever you like to present it. Do I make the whole matter plain? I think you see at least what you are to do; and will, in the performance of it, experience no difficulty. The Banker I employed here (tho' they will not ask you this, I fancy) is “Jones, Loyd and Co, 43. Lothbury”; the Clerk said they would write to Edinburgh tonight, and from Edinr to Dumfries there must be news down before Wednesday. Or if they have even missed it for a week, we will not take alarm. Let James then, on Wednesday or even on Thursday (if you wait so long) put “right” on some part of the Newspaper, and I shall know that it is right, and have it off my mind.

This is all the business, then; and now I will tell you a word or two of what the Doctor tells me; for unhappily there are no Franks going, whereby I might send you the Letter itself. Jack is very well himself, and daily goes bathing in the beautiful Mediterranean sea, and “cools” himself thereby, before breakfast, for the heat of the whole day. He enjoys strong enough health, he says; but all his Ladies seem to be suffering more or less, from the great heat; and in consequence have determined to shift down to their old quarters by the shore at Castellamare, and there, or shifting about among similar spots already known to them, pass the September Month, before returning to Rome. He does not seem to make much of their ailments, or think that they will prove fatal; he hints also that their determinations, about change of place &c, are not like the Law of the Medes and Persians; but withal directs me how to address Letters to him, and seems at ease whichever way things go. He asks me also, whether I do not think he ought to ask his Lady's permission to try for some Practice in Rome thro' winter? A course I shall strenously advise him to follow.— He thanks me abundantly for all my Scotsbrig and Annandale details, and solicits more: his good honest heart is full of affection for us: to me in particular he writes like the best of Brothers, and makes me feel rich and strong in the possession of such. May we be thankful for it; and employ it, not misemploy it!— Grahame's Letter must be in his hand before this time, and also one from me: I will write again so soon as this Newspaper with “right” on it comes to hand. Jane is to go and see the good Miss Morris, who lives on this side of the town, one of these days: but I doubt, will hardly find her, at this season when everybody is off to the country fields.

As for ourselves, dear Mother, we are all right, and in the old way. I have actually begun scribbling at my Book, and have even got something down; but find it difficult to get into the right key; my hand has been so long out; besides I want to write it plainer, if I can. Nobody can wish more honestly to do the thing right; I could well indeed kneel down, and audibly ask help (as, in silence, I hope I do) of the great Helper; for “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”4 Let us nevertheless go forward in His strength; and do the best that is in us. We will not “tine [lose] heart,” therefore, let the wind blow as it will; but toil on manfully while Time is left, knowing well that Eternity is soon to follow.— But if now to this solemn view of the matter I add another gay one: namely that I am in use to cheer my steps along these tumultuous streets, many times, by humming a Scotch tune, you will better understand my mood. It is quite true: I often march to “Johnnie o' Cox” or “Fairest Phillis,”5 and get along all the better for it; caring (like Curly) “not a rush” for innumerable things. Let me mention too that I take nearly a third less of tobacco than I did, and this without restraint upon myself; which I reckon a considerable improvement. We still see a few friends, tho' most of them are gone for some weeks. There is all the more time for working and considering. I this day took Jane (as I went towards “the City”) to see Allan Cunningham, and Chantry6 the Sculptor's works: a grand business; he is reckoned the best statuary here; but seems a fat little managing body, rather than a great man. A Frenchman talks of coming down to see me; one Carrel a “headman” among the Political Doctors: if he come, he shall be welcome; but I expect small comfort from him. We were at “a Party” the other night (East Lothian friends of Jane's) and saw “ladies and gentlemen,” and one or two sensible persons whom we hope to meet again. Lastly, we have got a most beautiful Lamp (of the Sinumbra kind,7 which James knows of); and sit by it nightly over our needlework and papers, really most cheerfully illuminated, at no great cost: it is a device of Jane's who loves light passionately,—a most innocent passion. She is well (better than she used to be); sends you all her “kind love, and hopes you will answer her Letter.”— We had word from Mrs Welsh yesterday, who mentions your purpose to have visited her, something of Jenny, and also that Jean has still her task to do. May it be well, well with all of you!— Grahame of Burnswark wrote to me again today; about Edward Irving mainly, who I am happy to find has actually gone into the country, and given himself a chance for new health.

This dismal harvest weather for poor Dumfriesshire, tho' I can neither help it nor hinder it, grieves me daily. Harvest is done here two months ago; we had the hottest summer, and now we have weather as damp as you, tho' perhaps with less fall of rain. Poor Alick and Jamie! Perhaps (judging by Grahame) their very Hay is out. But what can one do? Hope, and even believe, that the weather will mend.— Now, my dear Mother, do I not for this the third Letter deserve an Answer from some of you? I know you think I do; and what is more that you will in due time send me one. News that you are well! Take care of yourself: this surely is unwholesome weather for you; and I daresay you are longing for the country air again. Comfort and encourage poor Jean, tho' I hope she has courage and does not need help much. Our love to all: to Mary, to Jenny; Alick owes me a Letter.— May God ever have you in His Keeping! Good night, dear Mother!

Ever your affectionate, /

T. Carlyle

I have learned nothing yet about the Whitehaven Package: I reflect only that “Bacon hams” great or small will be an impossibility at that season! The only things essential are the Butter and the oatmeal: these, at least. The Parcel of Books ought to be in Jean's hand before now; tho' none of our Dumfriesshire friends acknowledge their copies yet. Tait the Edinr Bookseller writes to me that he “forwarded all” to their destination; doubtless, therefore, M'Kie's too.— Again, good night!—