October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 1 December 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18341201-TC-MAC-01; CL 7:341-343.


Cheyne Row, Monday Afternoon [1 December 1834]

My Dear Mother,

Three hours ago came this Letter from our good Doctor;1 which I know will give you pleasure, the rather as you have been anxiously waiting for it. I will not detain it a moment; but go to Buller, and (if he be at home) perhaps get a frank for it this very night. Jack you will find is all right; and settled for the winter at Rome.

As to myself I have not a moment's time to write; and do not mean to pay my debt today. That tough Bastille (which I have had work enough with) still holds out; but will be done in two days. There, is after that, another small Sherre' muir,2 and were I over with that, I will treat myself—and you.

For the present, dear Mother, take my assurance that I am well, no less than busy. Let not your Motherly heart be anxious about my health, or anything that concerns me. Depend upon it, I do not overwork myself, but study to take it moderately like one that had a longish spell of it to do: I am always happiest and best when in the middle of work; provided it will go on with me! Which, indeed, it will not always do.

Sandy's Letter came on Saturday gone a week; and that very evening the Boxes; they had been just nine days from Annan. All was as it should be, but one thing—the bottom of James Austin's Box. It had given way, and the meal was running out; the precious meal! “Down ran the meal upon the road; most piteous to be seen.”3 I think there was not above a stone and a half of it lost; and we were thankful for the remainder; being really in great want of it. We must take a Barrel next time and no Box: little do our Annan friends know the knocking and smashing a thing has to undergo between them and us.— The rest, I have said, was all in perfect order,—except one [of] the butter-canns cracked (the one on your right hand, as you opened); which however Jane soon mended with a little putty; and did not stir the butter, but began eating it. Excellent it is: and as for the meal, we rejoice over it nightly (like Hebrews over Manna, almost),4 so dry, clean genuine is it; so different from the wretched Mill-sweepings they sell here. Alick's ham with your Letter (and one just begun by Mary) was in its place. Many, many thanks to all of you that have taken such charge and care of us!

My dear Mother, you are growing a capital writer; positively you need nothing but just to go on, and make me quite independent of all of them. I will tell Jean, by the next frank, to get you a quire of ruled paper at Dumfries, and send it out: you may take a whole week over your Letter; fill at your leisure, to the very brim; and let it be right sure of a welcome! I owe you some long sheets for your last kind little one; which I have still in my breast pocket, and make much of. What a blessing that there is such a thing as writing; that you have learned to write!

I went to Buller's Radical Meeting, and was greatly amused by it. The people were in deep earnest: some two thousand of them, mostly industrious-looking men, the better kind of operatives; many of them under thirty. The murmur of their assent or dissent, above all the kind of bark (what we Annandale people call a goust or gollie) coming from two thousand voices, at any sound or mention of Toryism and its insults, was grand to hear. It was bitter earnest with them; not so with me, who came thither as a mere onlooker, and did not care much which way it went. Toryism or Radicalism, it seems to me all things are going to the howe pot [bottomless pit]; whether tomorrow or the day after is small concern. God is above all, and will work his own wise Purpose with it;—and support and save those who are worthy. I only hope, they will not get to absolute breaking of crowns; which indeed seems a thing no one apprehends.— In Wellington's shoes I would not willingly be: he thinks to rule Britain like a drill-serjeant; but will find it not answer. As bonny a man I have seen before now lose his head in such a business. God pity him, and all!

Plenty of company is here now; and in the cool weather (which is wonderfully clear and dry) I can take long walks. Mill speaks of som[e arrange]ment for sending me a daily Paper he gets:5 in that case, when [something] special occurs, I can send you a Number. I fear you are short of good reading, when you take to poor Schiller a second time: tell me if you are. It were easy to make a better effort to get more for you, even from this distance. I could write to Ben Nelson to give you share of his share in the Annan Library: I believe he would do it at once with pleasure. Tell me, if it would be useful. There are stores of good reading there.

My own poor French Revolution struggles on as you see. It will keep me all winter: but if the people “read it when it is irwitten” [sic], or if it be worth reading, we will not complain. Mill's new Periodical is to go on; and I shall get work there if I want it: but for the present I rather hold back, till I see what sort of fellows they prove; what sort of terms they will offer me. I have much to learn here (for it is a most confused singular world this); but it is good that I have come to learn it: I feel no doubt but I shall swim in the water, did I once know the currents of it. None, when I see what wights are swimming! Fear nothing.

I have almost filled my sheet; for I could not send it away vacant: I fear I shall thereby lose the Post for this night: but Buller at any rate had little chance to be in. I will have tea, and then try him. It is four miles off; but I did not walk today on purpose for that.—Good night dear Mother! I see you in the Scotsbrig two rooms, with the gurly [blustery] winds about you; but, I hope too, a little comfortable black tea-pot (a witch one) on the hob; and kind thoughts to your children that are far or near, and assurance that they send you the like. When will you write to me? I myself will not be long. Our kind love to Jamie and his Dame, to Mary, Jean and them all. Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle