The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 15 July 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400715-TC-MAC-01; CL 12: 194-196


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, 15 july, 1840—

My dear Mother,

The Third Lecture, which I have been busy with, this week and more, is just off my hands a few hours ago; I have written a Letter to Jack, who was waiting for that posture of circumstances; and now before the day go, I will write a third screed for you too. You got the little Note I sent on by Mary's, I suppose? I had a Letter from Jean1 three days ago, wherein she tells me you have now quitted Powfoot, and got home again; how she herself was at Mary's, how Alick and Jamie came driving down just while she was there. She incloses me a nice little Note from you to her; really a nice little Letter, which it does me good to read. It is dated almost four weeks back, indeed; I should like you would write a “scrape of a pen” for us here at Chelsea now. I sent forward the bit Note to Oban; Jack I knew would like it.

This Third Lecture,2 which was considerably the worst as spoken, is not so bad now when written, “with improvements”; on paper it will do as well as any of the rest, I hope. There are none of them worth much to my mind. If I were a bit tougher in the stomach, I could soon write them all down. But alas, alas!— Really it depends on the stomach, on the nerves, much more than anything else. Whether I shall begin the next immediately or what I shall do, is very uncertain at this moment. We have had no weather that [I] could dislike hitherto; indeed it was too much as if made expressly for me,—very windy, grey, decidedly damp, cold and bad for everything but me. These two days there has been promise of heat: today is bright; warmer than I like it,—if it were not that I think of the corn. I suppose you in Annandale, who I hope have got the like change, are still gladder of it than we: the crops on cold land must be in a very blate [backward] condition, I doubt. The people here had a very troublesome hayharvest; tho' there hardly ever was a shower half an hour long, yet it was always spitting, and plaguing them. Their haystacks are huge things like a good big Meetinghouse; the[y] mount regular scaffolds to fork from: they had all, this year a huge sail-cloth (which is moved up and down by pullies, and hangs on large masts at each end) to screen the top of them while they were in progress. The wheat looks well, as far as I see, tho' it will be latish.

Poor Mrs Gavin Irving, once of Annan, is gone! They sent me an announcement the other day from Glasgow to that effect. She had been tried with many sufferings, in her old days, poor woman; that is the heaviest time for suffering. I notice also by the Newspaper that Senhouse Nelson is dead. No continuance for us here!— The Newspaper also taught me that you had got a Minister settled at Ecclefechan;3 this I think will be a real comfort to you among others. It has been in a very doleful state, all that business of late years.

I still have my horse; I have not got any “ride” yet. I do believe it would do me good; and perhaps I ought, as a duty, to bundle and go. At all events I will either go in a day or two now, or give up talk about it,—and send my horse off without it. I wish Annandale were but three times as near!— Am I not coming to Annandale, however, in one way or other? That is the question, you ask, my dear Mother! Alas, I wish I were there; but it is an ugly business going. I still count that I shall and will go. A few weeks of weather like this would start me thither or somewhither! Thomas Erskine asks us to go to his place near Dundee:4 it is not likely to take effect, tho' he is an extremely good man. We shall see. Some way or other I must get to my Mother's hearth again if I can!

Jack has written to me twice since you heard last from this. He had got back to Oban; had received his trowsers and the Miscellanies; had two good rooms close by the sea, and looked out, over the blue waves, on the black Hills of Morven, Ossian's old country.5 He had no company at all, except that his Patient and he read together, walked together; but he said he felt less solitary than in Italy. I liked his last Letter very well, and had some thought of sending it to you; but it is too heavy for this cover, and there are no news but these.

A certain Paisley Writer called on me the other day, with unexpected news that at a Public Meeting of Paisley people I had been named as one of a deputation to wait upon Lord John Russel about emigration!6 Much obliged for the honour, gentlemen: but we shall hardly go, I think. They are terribly ill off the poor people in Paisley I understand.— Great quantities of things and persons come to me; one has to stave them all off, or almost all. A weak body like me might be torn in pieces otherwise.

Jane agrees as usual with the heat. Her foolish beau cousin James Bailey7 turned up here again lately; five minutes of him satisfied me: he is not “a bad man” if you like; but a trivial silly man; a fool, in short. Jane too is quite weary of him after their one interview, and seems to determine on no second. Mrs Welsh writes us in quite a wrath at him, as a “disgrace to the clan.” He has still cash enough, fine clothes enough; but really nothing more: a silly fellow, as I said.

Make my compliments to Sandy's Jamie, and to Jamie's Tom; these are the youngest, then go off at the eldest. Good be with you all, young and old. Blessings on you always, dear Mother. I will write again soon.

We dine at 2 o'clock these two days; and then I go and ride, as I am now about to do. We will see how that answers. Adieu dear Mother

Ever your affectionate /

T. Carlyle