July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 8 November 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471108-TC-MAC-01; CL 22: 153-155


Chelsea, 8 Novr, 1847—

My dear good Mother,—I will write you a little word today, tho' I have not almost anything to tell you beyond what you heard in Jamie's Letter,—no news in fact at all. But I know you will be glad to have the assurance again that we are all well; besides I hope to provoke somebody to tell me more specifically how you yourself are.

Today is very fine weather; and Jane has gone out somewhere, earlier than usual, for some long expedition seemingly, while I sat here up stairs. We have had our fogs too, and customary London puddlings in Novembertime; so that poor Jane could not get out, and has been complaining a little of her head: this day's walk, I anticipate, will do her good. I also will out, the instant I have done this Letter; for the time is is1 come.— Last night we saw Jack, as usual: he is in capital spirits; firing away at his work, which seems to occupy him very much. He has given me a kind of wash (“lotion” they call it) for my itchy ankle-spots, which does the wretched little things some good. I suppose they will go away before long, or at least allow me to forget them. They, I think, are all the visible benefit I have got from industrious use of the “hair-gloves,”2—a renowned invention which does not appear to have suited me very well!— I also had a Note from Jean at Dumfries: all well they; but one of Jenny's little Lasses, the Mary one, seemed to have caught some cold. The Irish Beggars too, Jean complains are terribly prevalent about Dumfries!3 They are beginning to be palpably burdensome in some districts of London too. The unfortunate raggabrash [vagabonds];—and there is nothing but noise, and falsity and open murder and distruction in their own unhappy Den of Scoundrels: I believe the avenging sword of Heaven, from some quarter or another, cannot fail to alight upon them,— and upon us too who are connected with them!

A man of the kind they call “sculptors” is plaguing me somewhat, in these days, with what he calls modelling my face,—that is to say, shaping a figure of it, in clay first, and then in marble! He will never make a good job of it, poor fellow, for all his pains; but I had promised it long ago, and was obliged to submit. Happily I have now only twice to sit; he will have done this week: then let him catch me again, if he can! These things are a real bother to [a]4 person, who does not like fash [bother], without profit appearing behind it, in one shape or other.

Shortly, I think I shall send you a new Copy of my Miscellanies;5 for I see they are published at last. Your old Copy will then be a superfluous article; you can be thinking of somebody to give it to,—tho' I daresay you will keep hold till you actually see the other come to hand! These Books of mine, poor things, bring me in some money now,—like cows that give a drop of milk at last, tho' they had a terrible time of it as calves. Let us be thankful: it is better to have one's evil days when one is young than when one is old.

Emerson is lecturing both at Manchester and Liverpool, as you have heard. I rather think his popularity is not very great hitherto; his doctrines are too airy and thin for the solid practical heads of the Lancashire region.6 We had immense talking with him here; but found he did not give us much to chew the cud upon,—found in fact that he came with the rake rather than the shovel. He is a pure high-minded man; but I think his talent is not quite so high as I had anticipated.

Dear Mother, I must go, while the sun lasts. With you I fear all is mud and damp winds in this winter month: I pray you wrap well, and keep good fires; you must not venture out, except a little way up the dry road on the hill, while the sun is shining. Alas, I have nothing that I can do for you, dear Mother; I am very poor in all but wishes for you! Bid some of them send me punctual word at least how you are.

Tell Isabella the butter is excellent: Jack has got his Pot too; and it is all right.— Have you anything suitable to read? I will write again before long. Your affectionate Son

T. Carlyle

Jack took the Newspaper yesternight: I hope he despatches it faithfully this evening.