August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 2 December 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18461202-TC-JAC-01; CL 21:101-103.


Chelsea, 2 Decr, 1846—

Dear Brother,

The day after your Letter came, I wrote to Chadwick, making the due inquiries, both Whether there were to be Doctors at all, and if so Who was to appoint them! I heard nothing from him till this morning; and still it proves not to be an answer, for his Note bears date the 25th and is written in reply to another and former one of mine; but on reading over what he has sent, it strikes me he may probably have meant it for an indirect succedaneum for an answer. You will see he writes very ill; stuntedly, and as with a ragged wire dipt in ink. Buller is not in Town; and I know not altogether where to see Chadwick (his Poor-Law people and he are in a state of divorce of late):1 but there are other people to whom I can apply, if you do not find an answer in what is now sent, or in what he may still shortly send, which of course I will forward without delay.

It appears by that Pamphlet, which came with the scratch of a note from Chadwick this morning, that besides the Govt Commission there is a private Association for the Health of Towns; farther that Ld Lincoln brought in a Bill, which Bill, or any Bill, is not yet Law; and that in fact there has nothing yet anywhere been decided on the subject, so far as we can see.2 But if you look at pp. 5, 89, 119 of the Pamphlet (or probably you will read it all, for other purposes) you will find a recommendation or vague future prophecy of Doctors being appointed, tho' for other ends than Campbell3 thinks of; and this I suppose to be what he, in the distance and hearing very confusedly, may have had in his mind when he wrote to you. As I said, if you wish me to inquire farther, I will readily set about doing it.— It is possible or even probable that some of these Doctors may be voted for, next year, and some of them even appointed, the year after. So far as one can judge by the Duke's Letter,4 he does not seem inclined to give himself much trouble in reference to the matter; nor indeed, I apprehend, would it be of much avail if he did: the likelihood decidedly is that such appointments will not now be by influence at all, but by reputation of fitness for the work, and as to that question the Duke's testimony will only be one, and not the weightiest, among many.— I wish I could do anything whatever for you in regard to this matter, or to any other!

We have got sharp frosty weather here; and poor Jane has, as is usual with her, caught a bit of a cold. Her new Servant too is one of the most perfect Ploots [Rustics]; can do nothing of her work at all in a complete manner; has a bad discontented temper too;—and indeed, on the whole has, this very day, much to my satisfaction, come to the mutual conclusion with us that she is to go about her business at the end of the Month. All this, with Miss Welsh here, introduces a certain disturbance into our quiet little household: but it will be all got rectified again, before long; and in the meanwhile we (or rather others than I, who am little concerned with it) must take it as gently as we can, till this Practical Platitude too, as many before it have done, be pleased to take itself away. I myself am pretty well; only very idle, reading nothing but wearisome trivialities, and not writing at all: this morning in spite of the frost, I bathed and washed effectually in my cold tub, and feel for the time very considerably improved by it. Last night we tried the meal in porridge: excellent, in spite of the black specks. The butter is as good, according to all votes, as ever was eaten.

Yesterday there came a foolish German Book, History of Scotch Popular Poetry,—complete from Burns and even Gawin Douglas down to “Stewart Lewis war ein Schneider in Ecclefechan [Stewart Lewis was a Tailor in Ecclefechan]”! Dedicated to “Den beiden Schotten [The Two Scots] Thomas Carlyle und Robert Chambers”!5 I have seen few more ridiculous things. This ridiculous Note accompanied it: this I send you; the two volumes themselves I think of perhaps sending to Rammerscales some day!6

End of my paper. Oh dear old Mother, how are you in this sharp weather! My thoughts are with you daily, and my prayers if they availed anything. Adieu, dear Brother. Affectionate regards to all. T. Carlyle