August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE ; 11 October 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421011-TC-JC-01; CL 15: 125-127


Chelsea, 11 Octr (Tuesday), 1842—

Dear Jamie,

I am very glad to hear of you again; happy that you have got your harvest over, and a better harvest than you have had for a good many years back. Let us hope, it may be the beginning of a set of better ones! Certainly there is much need of them:— But we ought to be thankful for what we have already got.

Yesterday morning, I think, there would a small Letter come from me for my Mother: I must write you a word today about that kind cargo of butter and meal which you have made ready for us. The business part of it will not be ill to discuss. We do indeed begin to grudge eating up a yearly firkin of Isabella's good butter! But that part of the discussion can be reserved for another time.

We will take four stone of meal: that, I think, was our last years quantity; and that has sufficed us,—for there are a few pounds still extant here at present. I am falling rather away from supper altogether within the last year: do what we can, the dinner hour is sinking later; coming towards Six o'clock, the unnatural hour of London; at which, as I sometimes predict, it will have to arrive, one day! However, we cannot be beaten with four stone of meal: I am even deciding on having some cakes baked; which would easily swallow that or a larger quantity. Four stone will do. And as to the time of sending it,— The sooner the better. My shirts here are getting totally done; I shall be glad of Jenny's new ones whenever they can be laid hold of. Our Mother's Picture too is coming. Perhaps it will be easier that all these articles go in one batch No 1, No 2 or even No 3, if you find it good to make three packages. The sooner you can gather them all, and send them off by the Steamer, it will be the better. I have already written to Dumfries, explaining that the Picture is to be framed here; they have only to get a small deal case to put it in;—indeed, I should expect, it was all ready by this time. The Doctor will write you three addresses or two, when he comes, which must be very shortly as I compute, sooner than you seemed to be expecting him. My notion was that he would sail either today (Tuesday), or else the day after tomorrow.

Jane's cold is decidedly better today: I hope she is not going to break down with the beginning of winter, poor weak little dame! She is not strong, but is gradually settling herself to be as strong as she was.— I think I told you, a while ago, that all that Duke concern is now settled: that I have got the money, “thanked” the illustrious Graces and finished off with them handsomely forever and a day.

Our little Cousin goes away this week. A Liverpool Cousin of hers, a young “Walter M'Gregor,” is come up on business at present; and it had from of old been settled that he was to take her home again. She is very wae to go, poor little thing, and would much rather stay here than go back to the greasy stupidity of Liverpool again: but what remedy? She is one of the sweetest-tempered, best-conditioned, nice little creatures I have ever been near: it seems to me very strange nobody has yet picked her up for a wife, for she is decidedly a little Beauty withal!

One does not see here, in our circle of life, much of the practical distress that weighs on the people; yet enough of it exists here, which nobody can help seeing: a most melancholy sight to every living fellow-man. The suffering in the Lancashire region, indeed everywhere in the trading world, continues, as we now hear, altogether unabated, likely to grow worse and worse; the outlook for the winter is by no means a cheering one to Corn-Law Governments! Poor Sir Robert Peel cannot do much; but if I were in his place, I think I should say, Friends either permit me to do some actual thing, not a set of mere sham imaginary things; or else behold I withdraw, and altogether decline from it!——— ——— Potatoes here sell at present at 6 pence for the 5 lbs, or 5 pence for the 6 pounds, I forget which: some 10 shillings a hundred-weight: that is a price you could pay a rent with! They are very bad potatoes too; but the Scotch ones will get in now, from Perth & Fife.

The Doctor will give Isabella his best advice: but I suppose no Doctor or medical treatment can really be of much help to her; she will find her only resource in regimen, diet and general management of herself, which tho' slower is a far surer resource.

This inclosed Note is from an American Parliamenter (a Senator, I half guess):1 I have appointed the worthy man tomorrow at half past two, when my days work, such as it is, will be done. We had another American last night, called Longfellow, “Professor Longfellow,”2— Professor Dullfellow I rather found him, and was glad enough to see him go.

Well, here is scribbling enough. I commend myself affectionately to our good Mother, and to one and all. Tell my Mother I will send her a better Letter before long. Remember me to Alick, whom I never forget.——— Do not despair of the Turnips!

Your affectionate Brother /

T. Carlyle