July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 23 December 1837; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18371223-TC-MAC-01; CL 9:375-377.


Chelsea, 23d December / 1837—

My dear Mother,

Before the Parliamenters go all out of town with their franks, I will write a hasty line to satisfy myself and you about the last Letter that went. It fell just about the time of your flitting; and, I think, must have been in Manchester before your Letter to me left you.1 Robert, it seems, had made arrangements about such Post-matters; but there would be some delay. Since that, indeed, I have had a Newspaper from him with three strokes, from which I infer that all is probably right. However, I will make assurance doubly sure.

Understand then that a Letter did go off towards you just about the flitting time; that it contained a Letter from the Doctor, who had got fairly settled in Rome; that it reported all well of him and of us. There was nothing more of importance in the Frank; so that even if it should be lost (which I judge highly unlikely), you need not give yourselves any uneasiness about it, but let it go. And so enough about it: I shall suppose that you have got it, all right.

Since then there has nothing of great importance fallen out, and nothing at all that was wrong. Jane still continues tolerably well; taking great care of herself. I too am well, better than I was; the deafness has entirely left my ear; a considerable relief to me, for it was very confusing and annoying. My Article on Walter Scott, which will be printed before long, gives much satisfaction to the Editors, and they are very desirous and urgent that I should do them some more forthwith: but my appetite in that direction is not great at present; I rather think I shall look mainly in the lecturing side of things for some time. Fraser the Bookseller, I said in last Letter, wanted to collect my scattered pieces and print them: well, I wrote to him that there were five volumes, and that he should have them for £50 apiece; that is, one small edition of them for that; the entire copyright I would not sell him at any price. Poor Fraser was thrown into a terrible strait; “could not give” so much; I could not take a fraction less; and so I said “Well, Sir, good b'ye, then,” and he answered almost at the greeting, “Good b'ye”; and there the matter rests at present. My persuasion is that £50 a volume will one day be got for those things, if not today then tomorrow; and it may easily be at a day when I want it more than at present. So we will just leave it standing where it is (please the pigs),2 and not strike in it at all till somebody offer these terms, however far off that may be,—these terms, or something like these. I have no wish or notion to print any more without wages: no wages, then shall be at least no working and toiling.3 My own persuasion is that Fraser will come back to the charge, and try me again; but he shall be right welcome to do either way.— I believe I ought to begin getting a Course of Lectures prepared in some measure: that will be the best for me. We shall see.

There has been a change of Servants here since you heard of it: greatly for the better in my opinion. The young Englishwoman (whose grand recommendation, it always seemed to me, was like that of George Lowther's4 man, the extent of her “porridge-bowl”5) had no sooner recovered fairly out of her sickness than she began to grow discontented ambitious of rising in the world; and so ended by giving up her place, and nearly failing altogether to get another, even a far worse and lower one. She went off, the great glutton sack, last week; and next day, there arrived (by previous appointment with Miss Fergus of Kirkcaldy) per Edinburgh Steamer as they say, a fresh hand,—gleg-looking [sharp-looking] as a needle, honest-looking, and with a Scotch tongue in her head; an entirely passable kind of character, as I conjecture; who will do for her time, far more to my mind than ever the other did. They call this new one Helen Mitchell;6 she is one of the queerest-looking antics you ever saw; calls herself eight-and-twenty, but must be turned of forty, one would think; and really is very cle[ver], and I doubt not will do well enough.

Jane is rummaging very much, packing a box for Templand; I am in great haste otherwise. Thank Jenny and Robert for their share in the Letter; especially thank yourself. I have written to Jack, and sent him your messages. I received a Newspaper from Alick with strokes; no other news: it was the Preston Chronicle, which I sent back to Manchester whence it had come. I wrote to Jean at Dumfries. I will write to you again when more news come from Rome. There was a Newspaper with strokes since the Letter came.—— I hope and expect this new enterprise of Robert's will turn out well. He is the man for standing to it; with diligence, with fidelity, discretion and honesty above all. Give him my best wishes for it.— O dear Mother, how many things I omit here, which were to be said; which I must leave your own kind heart to fancy for me! Tell me what sort of house this new one is; whether you sleep rightly in it, you and Jenny (as for him he could sleep in a Railway engine I daresay), whether it is warm, smoky, &c &c; in short, how you get on, and are. Jane sends you her best regards, and wishes for the new year: she is in an awful fizz today, getting this “box” off,—which contains, I think, two muslin mutches [close-fitting day caps] and sundries!— The inclosed Letter is my last from America; you can keep it; after reading it, give it a place in your trunk. Adieu, dear Mother; keep youself well; snug among kind friends. Ever your affectionate— T. Carlyle.

I see in the Dumfries Paper that Broadlee Farm7 is to be let. What is to become of poor Bell?8 He was drinking, breaking gigs last autumn. ah me!——