The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 6 February 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410206-TC-MAC-01; CL 13: 31-32


Chelsea, Saturday, 6 feby / 1841—

My dear Mother,

What in world is becoming of you in these dreadfully tempestuous days? It is the fiercest weather I ever remember since 1819 in Edinburgh. Frost everywhere, hard as iron, water will freeze in few minutes within any room that has no fire; and a storm of East wind blowing all day and night! The like of me, that can buckle myself up, and walk with large rapid strides, flourishing my stick,—does well enough: but those who cannot take exercise! Every morning I think of you; the clear lighted fire is so grateful to me; and I think how you have to get out of bed, and light the fire for yourself! It will never do, dear Mother. We must get you some young “help,” as the Americans call it. It must be done,—as good soon as syne [late]. The “fash [bother]” of these people, indeed, is hateful to one. I do wish, however, you would think of that, or of some equivalent to that. We will bear the expense of it,—I myself would bear the expense of it, and think it a great blessing to do so,—if you could arrange it otherwise. Think of it maturely. It is a shame for me to rise to a clear fire, and my good Mother who toiled so long for me obliged to rise and light her fire!——

Jane stays in the house, close. She does wonderfully for her, far better than of late years. Many poor wretches are terribly ill off. Begging in the streets; half-naked, dolefully “singing” &c. In the Cotton Countries,1 I suppose they are still worse situated.— People's minds do begin to be opened to the necessity, the pressing perilous necessity of getting something done for the innumerable miserable labouring clan. But it is far off yet, that of getting anything effectual done. Heaven send it be done in time; before violence and conflagration arise!

This morning there came a little Note from John. He is well, and speaks of lending Hanning some money.2 Their “travels,” if they meant any travelling, are all suspended by this weather. They ask me to come down, and see them, were the frost once done.

My Proofsheets keep me in a perpetual whirl of swift occupation. Two Books going on at once, and the Printers using all speed! But already we are almost as good as half done. By the end of this month I expect we shall have it entirely off our hands. I send you some leaves of the beginning of the Lectures. I find it will be a rather curious Book. Likely to give great offence; perhaps to do some considerable. I find more worth in it, now that it comes to be printed, than I thought there was. We shall see.

What is Jean doing? You cannot go to Dumfries in such weather. Impossible!— She will perhaps put it off, a little? Poor Jean, I should like well to hear from her again that all was well.3

But now, good Mother, I must be off. Alas, I feel as if in speaking about your fire, I had got it actually lighted for you! It is not so. I wish I knew what to do to make it so.

My affections and excuses to Jamie, to Isabella and little Tom. Alick, I think, is to write to me. He performed admirably during Jenny's illness. Good be with you all always! Your Affectionate / T. Carlyle