August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO ROBERT CHAMBERS ; 12 December 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421212-TC-RC-01; CL 15: 225-226


Chelsea, 12 Decr, 1842—

My dear Sir,

Your news of the Begg Subscription is very good;—and yet not all good: that is a most mortifying paltriness, that of the illustrious Premier pausing over his first bounty as too enormous, and reducing it to half! I myself saw his autograph, announcing that Great Britain would afford Twenty pounds to the indigent representatives of its greatest man in these centuries; and now, it seems, terrified at the rash act, she has ventured only upon Ten. The sons of Gilbert Burns,1 too, it would appear, have been “eating dirt.” Alas, the whole world continually eats quantities of dirt. Yet, praised be Heaven, some Four Hundred pounds for such an end do come out of the world, dirt-eating world as it is; and you, for your share, have been enabled to accomplish your problem, to solace and screen from misery a meritorious, forlorn, every way venerable Scottish heart, to save all Scottish men from a new ugly stigma; and do one other heavenly act under this terrestrial Sun. We will complain of nothing; let us rejoice over many things.

Your project for these young women and their Mother meets, in every feature of it, my entire approbation. They will do better in Ayrshire every way, since they themselves wish to go thither. The scene is, at any rate, more genial, as I suppose, for representatives of Burns; by removal from Tranent, where they have from poor become “rich,” they escape a multitude of mass village envies, and other impediments; they have free scope to begin on new ground a new course of activities. Being, to all appearance, sensible young women, I think there is no danger but they will do well. Their sixty pounds a-year is perhaps after all just about the happiest sum for them. Work is still useful, necessary; but no longer tyrannous tread-mill necessity; they are not dangerously lifted into a new sphere of existence, but rendered easy in the old one. We may hope, a blessing will be on that poor good household and better outlooks on all sides are opening for them.

I have signed the Paper.2 I return you again many thanks and congratulations; and am always,

My dear Sir, / Very Sincerely Yours /

T. Carlyle