The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 12 October 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18411012-TC-MAC-01; CL 13: 276-278


Chelsea, 12 Octr, 1841 / (Tuesday)

My dear Mother,

If I am good for nothing else today, I may at least send you a little news of myself! I awoke in the night-time, and have slept till almost noon; besides they are putting new carpets on my room, and I am banished into a back closet: in short there is little prospect of my doing much work for this morning at any rate.

We have been living as quietly as possible here, and are doing tolerably well in all ways. Jane begins to dislike the approaches of winter; the mornings and evenings already have a very frosty breath, and our weather keeps continually damp: however, she does not complain specially, and indeed is very busy, getting all manner of improvements made in my writing apartment,—so that I may be able to do something useful and notable thro' the winter! Alas, I am dreadfully spavined in that department; “stiff to ye reise, Sandy, man”:1 it will be a good while before I get fairly under way yet. Otherwise I have nothing to complain of. I must just struggle on till I do get into heat, and the stiffness leave me somewhat. I have had a long rest now; and I was not sent hither to rest.

If Jenny have gone to the Gill, or whether she have gone or not, I wish she would write me a short line. Did they ever actually introduce that chauffer with the coke-cinders? The rooms will be terribly damp otherwise. And with regard to the chauffer itself, Jenny must take very particular care never to have it burning without a bit of the window open,—at least never to go near it without first opening the window: the air of it will choke one, if not freely mixed with atmosphere air; and is dangerous for children. But she is a feat [clever] methodic little body; I hope she will get herself adjusted in some tolerable way in spite of all.

Jack has sent me two Letters, the last of them on Saturday; I enclose you both: there was a Newspaper yesterday. The Brighton people have had an accident on their railway; which perhaps will make them more careful, and their conveyance safer, for the time coming.——— Poor Fraser's business is to be carried on, but we do not yet know by whom: my accounts are to be furnished me “as soon as possible”; I hope there will be something in them when they come!

Jean lately sent me a braw Glengarry Cap, of a grey colour, from Dumfries: will you therefore apprise Alick that he need not send me the one I talked of;—unless indeed he have already got it, in which case I will not let it go to waste. I wish Jamie would tell me how his harvest is coming on: he must have had an awful fight, if your weather was like ours. We have hardly had two entirely dry days.2 It threatens to be a very miserable winter this for innumerable poor people. Some think that Peel really expects a degree of uproar and mobbing among the cotton-people; that he will then turn round to his Corn-Law friends, and say, “See! we must give way, or they will burn us and kill us.”

Dr Chalmers, a few days ago, sent me a new Book of his, on Poor Laws; on the possibility of still doing without a Poor-Law in Scotland: he wishes, he says, to gain my vote for that side of the question. I answered his civility very civilly; but can by no means be of his opinion there.3 The Manchester Times Editor takes a much notabler step: he prints at great length my account of the riots and burnings at the beginning of the French Revolution, and calls it “Supplement extraordinary to the Plea for the Poor!” Perhaps you might notice it in the Newspaper I sent you: it is now reprinted as a little pamphlet, and circulating up and down by post. It is indeed a Supplement extraordinary: it would not be amiss if all manner of Serene Highnesses took note of it. A hungry belly has no ears; and against mad oppression mad revolt has been appointed as a remedy.

Dear Mother, when are you going to indite me a little “scrape of a pen,” up in your little room, now that perhaps you are again alone up there? I want always to know whatsoever goes on. The little black “witch” teapot, how often do I see it in my mind, when sumptuous silver services and all manner of grand apparatuses are at work before my eyes!—

I sometimes think it would be as well if I wrote seldomer,—and waited till there was something to say! But you are glad to hear of me, even when I say nothing— If Jenny be not gone, perhaps she will not be in such a hurry now, till the plaster dry a little.

Farewell, dear Mother, for this day: it rains, rains; I must try whether there be no work possible for me. I send my brotherly affection to one and all. Good be ever [with] you all!———

T. Carlyle