April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 10 February 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490210-TC-MAC-01; CL 23: 230-232


Chelsea (Saturday) 10 feby 1849

My dear Mother,

Yesterday I let the time slip away till it was too late; but I must not neglect again today. On Thursday Night, the Scotsbrig Package was delivered safe here; a most swift passage, just a day later than Isabella's Letter: the cost of carriage 7/6; and all was right and uninjured. I took the Doctor1 his brand new Plaid, round my own shoulders, over to him that night; the Hams are still here unbroken, his one waiting for a convenient hour. We tried the Potatoes; found them wonderfully good; better far than any we could ever get here, except one small lot, which, among the continual fluctuations, had once turned up for us. Thanks, thanks! My own six pairs of capital stockings,—my dear good Mother, I cannot tell you how they have affected me. Ever as of old you are busy for my behoof; doing what you can, be it more or less, with true heart and willing hand: surely of all the stockings in this world, none could be welcomer to me than these are! Excellent stockings in themselves too; fit altogether well; and will keep me warm, and remind me thankfully of you for many a day to come.— The other set were not nearly done yet: but I will now look out the bad ones, and put them off duty, till there is an opportunity of sending them away.

You must very pointedly thank Isabella for us too (whose care in writing Letters, and in all punctual things, is always much and justly valued by us): so soon as a certain piece of Fife Bacon, which came from Walter Welsh, is finished, Jane, I can see clearly, will make no delay in breaking into this Scotsbrig Ham; for that is one of the few things she cares much about, and indeed it often seems to form her main sustenance at breakfast, the bread she eats being wondrously small in quantity. Thanks, and again thanks to you and to Jamie, and to all the kind friends that never forget us at Scotsbrig!

I am still working at the 3d Editn of Cromwell; and have not yet decided when the Bookseller2 is to be stirred up to print. It is a quiet canny job I have at present; but a good deal more of it than I expected, every addition, never so trifling, costing a good deal of trouble. I am making no change worth speaking of: I find that the Book is well liked, and silently making its way into the heart of the country: which is a result I am very thankful for.

The day before yesterday I had rather an agitated Three Hours: I was called before a thing they call a Royal Commission, to give testimony about the Library of the British Museum. Having many faults to find, I had much rather have held my tongue; but would not, the clear call being to open it. Open it accordingly I did; and told the noble Lords and others, in strenuous Carlyle phraseology, a good mouthful of my mind,—which seemed to amaze them considerably, even to frighten certain of them (who tried to bear me down, but made nothing of that), and at last I think to enlist certain of them in my favour, and produce some feeling in their idle minds, that here was a devil of a curious fellow, who seemed to have some truth on his side!3 The accused official parties sat by; especially one big blustering Half-Quack (not entirely a bad fellow either) whom I have long had my eye on:4 he could make next to no defence, tho' he tried hard; I am really almost sorry for him now, poor blockhead, now that I have got his dittay [indictment] given him!5

The worst was, it flurried my nerves a good deal; not a wholesome kind of thing at all! However, we are going, Jane and I, out to the Country, some 20 miles off, to Anty Sterling's place for 4 days on Tuesday next: fresh air, quiet and a good ride or two will set us up somewhat. Alas, the Paper is ended, and I must not begin another. Continue “well,” dear Mother, continue!— I will write again from Sterling's probably. Blessings on all.

T. Carlyle