The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 15 February 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400215-TC-JAC-01; CL 12: 47-50


Chelsea, Saturday, 15 Feby, 1840—

My dear Brother,

Your Letter1 has just come, along with a short Note from Alick at Ecclefechan, reporting that all goes tolerably well there. As the day has begun to rain at my projected hour of setting out, I may as well send you half a word,—even by this scandalous Pen; and with my Fire quite departed; and a set of people howling under my windows, uncertain with what object, for indeed I never heard such screeching and braying combined in one till now,—like the melody of jackasses concerting with gigantic he-cats! By Heaven's blessing, they are passing on, a little; likely soon to withdraw.

A Letter of mine, besides the one you got, is probably arriving at Pellipar by this time. I will write to you as often as you like. I have a notion of devoting one day in the week exclusively to answering Letters; the Penny-arrangement brings so many, it eats in upon one's morning not a little. Yet a word any day is easily sent; and often well worth a penny! Along with your former Letter came this Note from Thomas Erskine, relative to the poor Paisley weaver.2 I think you might like to read it: pray send it back, when you have a half-ounce that will take it in.— Scott, I hear otherwise, is lecturing in that region to an audience of 1,000 operatives; admittance three-pence each.3 My City friend, of the lecture affair, sent me the result of his investigations last night; he has ‘instituted committees,’ done this and that: Will I come and lecture at Aldersgate-Street4 four times at 8 o'clock p.m. for a sum of—£30 in all? Would that sum peradventure be sufficient to induce me? Ach Gott! I answer today with many thanks.

This morning too I have written a word to Fraser, demanding with civility to have a settlement. The man takes, of his own accord no steps whatever that way. What else is the use of all his fiddling and fidgetting so far as I am interested? Besides the Gill Farmers will need cash soon; £30, Jamie seemed to say: it may as well be sent soon as not soon. Alick, it appears, had lately been over with Jamie (of Scotsbrig) at Gill; he reports highly of the Farm; but says withal that their hay &c having turned out so ill, they will need to have cash. Our Mother was for the moment at Kirtlebridge; he says she is better this winter, he thinks, than she has been of late seasons.

I did attend Rogers's Dinner, as appointed. His Sister5 was there; an ancient lady, considerably more in embonpoint, and with less of wit than he. Of her came little. The dinner was in the first style of tasteful classicality; the company too not bad. Kenny at the foot of the table really pleased me; a most courteous innocent man, whose whole demeanour breathed patience, good breeding, inoffensive sense. Milnes, Heiland [Savior] Macarthy,6 and Spedding formed the rest of the company. I decidedly liked Rogers a little better. His love of young people is itself a good sign. He defended the poor little Queen, and her fooleries and piques and pettings in this little wedding of hers; he defended Macaulay warmly, against Milnes's reports of Parliamentary failure:7 his old eyes were full of melancholy, the old grey eyebrows so serenely sad and thoughtful; the old figure was so spare and clean and separate (in all senses): I really almost liked the good old man. He is getting rather deaf, a sad circumstance It may be said of him, with great emphasis, he consumes his own smoke;8 and I err greatly if he has not had a pretty volume of it to make away with, first and last! Poor old fellow, I declare I like him.

The Wilson dinner, the Rogers dinner, therefore, and all dinners are done. I have swallowed pills, set my wretched stomach in some order; wi[ll] keep out of their way while I can. “What to lecture on?” becomes rather a pressing question with me. I shall surely have my horse again before long. Probably that is the beginning of all wisdom for me. I still puddle in the Norse matters; with some fondness; not with much result hitherto.— Do you get the Newspapers; do you send them on to Scotsbrig?

This Letter of yours is marked paid at Derry; the other came unpaid. Complaints become audible of unpunctuality here and there. The body Cole told me the stamps would be ready in “three weeks.”9

The other day I came upon Arthur Buller on the streets, who went along with me for an hour or more. He is doing nothing; Charles is asking What to to [sic] do,—writing a little in the Colonial Gazette (if that is the name of it); agenting for the Australian people; waiting upon Providence! Some say Durham is to come into the Cabinet, Melbourne going out; in which case Buller might have a chance.10 Of Mill I have seen or heard nothing,—except indeed heard that he was worse in health. His brother had been obliged to go to Madeira since you went.11

The Booths12 (we met them that day in the Crabbe-Robinson Region)13 volunteer to come to tea on Monday; Mazzini is to come and see if they will make acquaintence with him. The two Lady Sterlings14 are coming too. Jane is not well today. Adieu dear Brother!

T. Carlyle.