October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 14 July 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460714-TC-MAC-01; CL 20: 230-232


Chelsea, 14 july, 1846—

My dear Mother,

Yesterday I got the Doctor's Letter, which informed me you had got the new Cromwell, and were going on pretty well in your usual way. I bid you thank him for the good tidings; which were very grateful to me here in my solitude, where sad and affectionate thoughts are chiefly my companions, and if I yielded to imagination I could take all manner of whims into my head.— I will now, while the day is still before me, write you in few words some account of myself so far as I can yet chalk out my scheme of procedure for the coming weeks.

My business here is in great part finished; nothing but some poor tatters of it remaining, which I think I can overtake in a few days if I exert myself. But I am apt to be very lazy; to sit in the shadow of our back walls here, and looking up into the hot sky spend day after day in doing little but dream and remember;—not entirely a useless way of spending a day either; but not to be indulged in beyond limits! I have read over and corrected all my Books for the American market; and fairly delivered the last of them to Putnam the New-York Bookseller's man in the end of the past week: so that is a thing done. Some money may come of it; I know not whether much; indeed I do not greatly care: I am not now in want of money at all; I have got more money this year than I ever did in any year before, and find that I need not pester myself any farther on that head at present. I have had a good deal to do with poverty in my time; but have learned this invaluable lesson from it and from victory over it: Never be its slave, nor Wealth's slave either, but to try if I can keep myself free between them! That will be the plan, if I can hit it.— We went, before Jane's departure, as John would inform you, to get that Picture done for you at the Photograph Establishment; but after many trials nothing would come of it: so we gave it up; and Laurence the Painter (whom John knows) offering me the Oil Picture (known also to the Doctor) which he had painted of me some years ago,1

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Frontispiece, CL Volume 10

Oil portrait of Thomas Carlyle by Samuel Laurence, 1838.

The original is privately owned; reproduced by kind permission of the owner.

I determined to send you that instead,—really a Picture of very considerable worth, and far superior to any Photograph. That I have now got beside me; screwed fairly into its box, only wanting the lid nailed on: that shall come to my dear Mother, along with the Original or perhaps sooner; we will have a proper frame made for it at Dumfries,—and so it will hang up in some good place, and give your eyes a little satisfaction now and then. This too therefore is finished;—as very many other things are. In fact I think of getting out of London, in one way or other, within a week to come, perhaps before this week end; and of being on the road towards you, some road more or less direct.

One very troublesome item in my affairs is the Horse I have. I did not sell him, could not find a good merchant, as I told John: the Paulets were delighted at the prospect of my sending him up to them for my own riding there; but now again the poor Animal and2 stands useless in the stable for a week past: they tell me he will not be fit for going in the railway to Liverpool before about friday or saturday,—and certainly when there he will be no great shakes at riding for some time. My own notion is that his ailment is the hot close stable and the hard food; and that he would get well as he used to be, very soon, on grass: but neither am I certain of this, or more than able to guess of it. The price of his carriage to Liverpool is £2. 12. 6; they have grass there, but no work or use of their own for this Beast. I believe he could easily be got across to Scotsbrig after that: but the question is, Has James any kind of accommodation for him; would there be any fair likelihood of selling such an animal at the Road Fair or earlier? He can ride, he can run well too (but needs a goodish driver, being thin- skinned, tho' very goodnatured,—nay perhaps he would go altogether doucely on grass): but on the whole, I do not expect very much benefit from riding or driving of him; so the question would lie somewhat with Jamie also, Can the beast be kept at Scotsbrig, can he be sold to any purpose there? I wish you would bid Jamie, the very night you get this, take serious counsel with himself and with the Doctor; and bid the latter write me the issue straightway. It will throw some light on3 the business. I must decide about Saturday:—as on the whole I think the Doctor will have to write immediately, if I am to get the answer in time. At bottom it is likeliest I may take the creature to Liverpool at any rate: he cannot be sold here except at a terrible disadvantage at present—— Jamie's word at any rate, his candid view of the matter, can do me no ill. I have decided to be quit of the Horse this winter, should I even take a pistol and shoot him: furthermore I think it is not likely I shall be in a hurry getting another!—

Since I began writing, there has come a Letter from Jane: she does not seem to be at all strong; but I think is getting a little better too.

I will write again before I set off; in fact, very soon. I have various projects as to my mode of travel northward; and do not like altogether to admit at once that it will be by the common railway method,—which, however, is probably the likeliest after all my pro-