The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 26 March 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400326-TC-AC-01; CL 12: 86-87


Chelsea, Thursday, / 26 March, 1840—

My dear Alick,

I am really sorry you have such a quantity of trouble with that Tobacco business. In this remoteness from all Excise affairs, I am not able to throw any light on the course of procedure; tho' I believe that Lockerby Gauger must be wrong, and that a regular Permit indicating the Tobacco to have regularly paid its duties anywhere in Britain will carry it safe over the whole British Empire.1 Probably there would be no danger of the thing, were it once fairly in anybody's hands at Liverpool: but decidedly we will not risk it; if the Excise vermin will not grant us a due permit, we will leave the article safe where it is, to be consumed in detail where it has already arrived.— For the rest, pray do not fret yourself too much about it. I have discovered a shop hard by this street, where the Tobacco is very tolerable; indeed considerably like that that I was expecting,—the main difference indeed recognisable enough, that it is at 1/4 per quarter lb.: but this on the whole is endurable, compared with dearth and badness both in one. There, in a Box from Mrs Welsh, there has already come a junk of very effectual bacon, which, as there is at present none to use it but occasionally I, will last a good while. So the hurry is considerably stilled, you see; and I will prescribe, as the first rule, that you do not flutter yourself, or on the whole take too much trouble about the affair at all. If the vexatious Excise interpose, and say “No,” we can answer, “Well, No be it then, thou vexatious Ineptitude, we can do also with No!”— Next Letter you write, put me in a pipe of the weed there as you have it, and I will try its quality! You can actually do this: half a sheet of paper will carry a good pipe of tobacco, and still be under half an ounce. Nay one might almost send it up in ounces by post, and have it but little dearer than I buy it here!— Another thing is, do not detain any Letter of my Mother's again: clap in half a word of your own, and send it off, swift; I was occasionally in anxieties about her during this wild weather of ours.

Your weather, it seems indeed, has been much milder; I do not remember to have seen a more poisonous March than is [this] of ours, with bitter east-wind and cold. Today and yesternight we had a fair sprinkling of hail and snow, which perhaps will sweeten things a little.— Poor Jane gave in, in consequence of all this, about two weeks ago; and is still very weakly with a kind of cold, or influenza, such as many have here; tho' she never yet actually keeps her bed all day. Indeed as she does not grow worse, I calculate that with the arrival of westerly weather, she will spring up again, little worse. On me too this bitter wind produces other than a good effect: without being precisel[y] unwell I feel myself rather more bilious than usual,—and this altho' I have been riding now with great diligence for above two weeks now. The doctors say, indeed, that riding does always at first make people more bilious, independently of weather! I will try to believe them; and certainly go cantering on. It is of great moment to me at this season to be in good case: my Lectures I often say will depend more on the black mare than on me; if I be not in clear condition of body, I cannot lecture on this subject at all! It is a subject, which I shall perhaps call “Heroes” (or Great Men, six of them); and if I had a fair chance I could give them a mouthful about it. But in my old humour, I durst not say a word of what it were essential to say. You shall hear more before long. It comes on in May.

Alas, here is two o'clock close at hand, and the morn will be here!— Good b'ye dear Brother for this day!— Yours ever affectionately

T. Carlyle