August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 30 March 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440330-TC-MAC-01; CL 17: 324-325


Chelsea, 30 March, 1844—

My dear Mother,

Before going out today I will write you a little word, in answer to your most welcome good Letter1 which I received at the due time. You are very good to take such trouble writing to us; we like right well to see your hand on a bit of paper, conveying your heart's wishes to us!— Do not give up the use of the pen!

Two days ago there went away a bundle of Books for you by Edinburgh and Dumfries. They will be in Dumfries perhaps in about ten days hence. Most part of them were for you; Jean was to pick out what belonged to herself, and send the others on to Scotsbrig without delay. They are books, two or three of them, that will please and entertain you; sent by John these: the rest are a heap of old Magazines &c, of little value; but I remembered what you once said, “Many a one wants to read, and has no Book at all!” You can give these away to parties of that kind; they are only lumbering the shelves here.

I hope your sad rough weather is done in the north; it must have been very trying for you, for Isabella and other weakly ones. We have got sunshine now in our latitudes here, and the lilacs and garden-trees are even beginning to send out leaves. The Spring is an unhealthy season for us all,—but there lies always a summer behind it! Jane, I think, is better than when you heard last; she does not profess to be sick at all, but she sleeps badly, eats badly, and is weaker than her usual, which is not very strong. I impute it all to the Spring season: there has been a great unhealthiness here for many months past.

All the people are in controversy about Lord Ashley's proposal to restrict the hours of Factory labour to Twelve with two allowed for meals, that is Ten hours in all. Numbers of people are loud and bitter against it; as for me I rejoice greatly that the Government has in any way begun to deal with that horrible business, the state of the work-people; immeasurable tasks lie there for all manner of wise Governors and Parliamenteers and Prime Ministers! Lord Ashley's Bill was carried once; but Peel and Graham have turned again upon him, saying they will go out if he carry it, so that probably it will be lost this time.2 But the business is begun; that is the great fact. The other day I saw one of the Official people, Lord Elliot,3 in a company who were all talking about this; I told him the Government were absolutely bound either to try whether they could do some good to the people, or to draw them out in line and openly shoot them with grape—that would be a mercy in comparison! He seemed much astonished: but I had a fair share of the company on my side.

My Book is very, very slow;—but I think it will go on at last: I must be patient, and toil away at it. The job I fear is a bad one; but it must be done, that is the short and the long.

We had a gliff [glimpse] of Jack last night, and hope to see him again tomorrow night, perhaps today.

Dear Mother you must just be content with this dud of a letter today I hope to send more before long My blessings with you always, dear Mother!

T. Carlyle

In the Book-parcel too is a Machine of the best sort, if you can find it useful in any way.4 Jane sends it with many welcomes,—but, as it belonged to those she will not see again, no doubt you will not “fling it away,” she says!