The Collected Letters, Volume 10


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 29 December 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18381229-TC-MAC-01; CL 10: 255-258


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea. / Saturday 29th Decr 1838—

My dear Mother,

On thursday I hope Alick would receive the Letter I hastily despatched for him with tidings that there was news of Jack's welfare and good progress. I now according to engagement send you off Jack's Letter itself; which tho' it contain little not known now will not fail to be interesting to you. I fancied your fears and anxieties in this dreary winter season would be so great that it was worth while to despatch the good news express and as it were by way of telegraph. I wrote to Jack, a long letter, the next day; addressed to Naples. He wishes Alick to write; which he ought to do by and by. You might add a line yourself. The address is “Dr Carlyle/Duke of Buccleuch's/Naples”; it must be written large and plain; you have to pay some 2/ to Postie, or it will not go off. We may consider Jack as doing very well at present; far better than we could expect in Autumn last. You must not be impatient for his next letter; who knows how long they may loiter about, at one place and another, before they get the length of Naples? Whenever it comes to hand (if he send it this way) I will despatch it.

The next morning after I had written to Alick there arrived a Letter from him; assuring me, among other good things, that you stood this winter pretty well. You are probably at Annan today; but they will send you this without loss of time. We send our affectionate regards to Mary and James; our best wishes that she were well thro' her task, poor thing.1 They are not likely to get Linbrigford, Sandy says;2 which perhaps is a pity, and perhaps may be no pity; one does not know. This must be a sore year for working men, with all kinds of provision so high: but it will not last always; there are better things possible yet.

I have realised my American Draft of dollars into Pounds Sterling; I send my dear Mother five off the fore-end of it: the “kitlin ought to bring the auld cat a mouse” in such a case as that,—an American mouse! It is very curious that cash should come in that way to good Annandale industry from across three thousand miles of salt water, from kind hands that we never saw. I mentioned probably in the former letter that I have arranged with these same American people for 250 copies of my “Miscellanies,” as they call them, which are to be sold here. Fraser is extremely impatient for them; but will have to wait three months, I fancy. He tells me the F. Revolution is going off briskly, will very soon be done, and a new edition required. Both from the Miscellanies and it I hope to make a little cash; I understand the method of bargaining better now, and the books do sell, no thanks to booksellers, or even in spite of them, the blockheads! It does not seem at all likely that I shall ever have much money in this world; but I am not now so terribly hard held as I used to be, such bitter thrift may perhaps be less imperative by and by.

Jane's health is again somewhat stronger; she still goes out in fine days a little, and does not cough. We hope she will be able to hold up till the year turn; she is evidently better than she has been of late winters. This day (which is wet) she sits by me “covering a chair,” a new stuffed very pretty chair, which a certain Mr Darwin (one of my Lecture friends) brought in yesterday, by way of Newyear's gift: very handsome indeed! She herself some time before that had bought for me with her own cash a huge article of the kind they call Tub-chair; it is really like a tub, or hogshead, all stuffed round; screens you from every draft, and the only fault is that one cannot sit in it without falling asleep. I wish many times you had it, up in your room yonder; with a good clear fire in front, and it all round (for it would rise a foot over your head) you might let the winds rave as they liked,—provided always no cattle or other outlers3 were exposed to them!

I have for the present given up with the Review people; chiefly on this fundamental ground, that the Editor is very much of a fool, a class of persons whom I find it utterly disagreeable to act with; the fatallest class of all! Mill is gone to Italy for health, and this man of his (one Robertson, a blustering, good-natured, ignorant, illbred Scotchman), tho' a great admirer of mine, does not suit me at all.— I am beginning to read books with a kind of view towards writing somewhat;4 but that writing lies a good way off yet I think. The best is, that I am not so dreadfu[lly] pushed now, and can wait a while till the spirit move me.

Last night I was dining at the Bullers' to meet Charles who is just returned from Canada. There was another man called Gibbon Wakefield, who seemed to me clever and coarse; he too is one of Durham's people. I think they will have a warm winter of it among them; the thickest skin hold[s] longest out, say I: it is for their own cause they are struggling; very slightly if at all for mine or the world's. Charles gave me a frank, you see; and that was good so far.

Your Letter, your mutton-ham (tho' you said nothing of that) were lying safe in the Barrel. Many, many thanks. It is all right; right as could be.— Jane says “Can't ye say every thing that's kind for me, to Mary and her?” I am to mention farther that it was your own former praise of her hand (as compared with mine) that made her write so carelessly, so illegibly. You see what partiality comes to at last!— Good be ever with you dear Mother. Send a Newspaper with one stroke when Mary is better if you have not time to write at the instant.— I sent the Courier round by Jenny last week; I know not whether she understood to forward it. Send her my love; I will write by and by. Your letter, round by Dumfries, came right? I infer so from Alick. I have to write a word for Jamie still.— Yours ever & ever,—

T. Carlyle