The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 3 December 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18411203-TC-MAC-01; CL 13: 312-314


Chelsea, Friday, 3 Decr 1841—

My dear Mother,

Jean's Letter having informed me punctually where you now are, I must not let the week end without giving you a word of intelligence. You know how busy I am, and will be satisfied with a very brief hasty word.

I wish I knew that you were sleeping well, and going well on, at Dumfries: I know they will be as kind to you as it is possible for human creatures to be; but you are easily thrown off your beat, and it does not take much to hurt you. I can only say: Take care of yourself, dear Mother;—and if you find that you are getting out of sorts, make off straightway for your own hadding [holding]!

John had a Letter last week from Jenny, in answer to his, which probably you saw. Jenny writes in better spirits, this time; and seems more composed and reconciled to her situation. Jack, I suppose, has himself written to you or Jean at Dumfries: he was about sending off a Box of old garments &c; and it was to be directed to James Aitken's care. We meet always once a-week; and have a long talk and smoke together, after the dinner is transacted; and then a convoying along the streets, in dry or wet weather: the distance between our dwellings is four miles and rather more; I have never tried to make a chance visit there yet, the distance and the uncertainty are both so great. Jack seems very cheerful: his work is dull and stupid; but, as I tell him, it might easily have a worse fault!— He agrees with me that perhaps Jenny's likeliest scheme may be some kind of establishment of her own, after Whitsunday; perhaps near Jean in Dumfries, or that quarter? But she ought to be left as much as possible to form a scheme of her own; those that wish her good can then more hopefully forward her in that. Rob,1 at best, cannot know for some time what is to become of him, on the other side of the water.

My Review Article is printed, or getting itself printed: it will come out, I suppose, about New-Years-day. It is not of almost any significance. But I will endeavour to get you a copy and send it. The poor Editor is in the highest degree civil, does all he can to attach me to writing for him: but he is a Dud, and his Review is a Dud.2 The thing I mean to write is not reviews at present!3

No arrangement has yet been made in the affairs of Fraser; so that I still wait for my Accounts, uncertain what the extent of them may be. His business was very flourishing, I believe; probably they mean to charge high for the good-will and connexion, and so find it difficult to fall in with a purchaser.——— On the other hand, I got £40 the other night sent out of America, part of my friends's profits for me there!4 It is curious; like manna raining out of the clouds: I did not feel as if working for that at all.

Poor Shakland the Tailor at Thornhill,5 I ascertain, is dead. He was a respectable character, a man of much intelligence; I had a real sorrow to hear of his death.

Nothing can be uglier than our weather here; wind, rain and mud;—worse than rain, a detestable kind of dag [drizzle], a degree fainter than Scotch-mist, which abounds here at this season more than anywhere I think, and ought to be called Middlesex mist rather! They do call it “muggy weather”; meaning thereby all that is scandalous in weather: for it is warm withal, you do not like to wear wrappage; and the mud, ground by millions of feet and wheels, is like no other mud in the world: it would make indifferently good paint, as I sometimes say. Occasionally, however, there is a bright beautiful day; and then all dries, and grows cheerful in an hour or two.— The distress of the people in the poor districts here I believe to be very great: all over England I suppose it never was greater.

Mr Clyde's son had left a card for me here, while I was in Annandale. A good many weeks ago, I wrote him a Note of invitation to tea: he answered, not from London, but from a place some two or three score miles off (if I remember), whither he is now gone. He seems to be a very good-humoured happy young man,— not without a dash of the gomeril [half-wit], as I judged. For his father's sake, I am much inclined to think well of him.6— I hope our uncle John is getting better, worthy old fellow.7 He is a bit of rather good stuff, after all.

I must end now, my dear Mother. Jane is down stairs, and as I hear has a visitor at this moment, wherefore I keep out of the way, and she only by implication sends you all her regards! She is tolerably well, considering what season we are in.— Thank the diligent Jean for her Letters till she get better payment. Ask her if she would mention, next time, the precise dates &c of the Bank-papers James has of mine. Good b'ye, dear Mother. I will write before long again. Take care of yourself. Good be ever with you! Your affectionate

T. Carlyle