April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 14 April 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490414-TC-MAC-01; CL 24: 21-23


Chelsea, 14 April, 1849—

My dear Mother,

I meant to have written you before now; but, as usual, too many things came always in the way, and cut me short! It is very silly to be driven from one's purpose in this foolish way: I must really learn to do better,—in the matter of writing to my Mother, if in no other!

We have in general been well here, since you heard last; Jane, the other night, had a very bad headache, which kept her extremely miserable from afternoon till towards bed-time; but it went away at last, and only left her weak and much “brashed” for a day or two after. John came over to us, so soon as he heard of the business, about 8 o'clock, and was very kind and helpful indeed; which was a real favour: kindness, indeed, and sympathy, is nearly all one can do for the poor Dame in those afflictions of hers.

Last week she was out at Addiscombe, keeping what they call the “Easter holidays” here; she staid a week, I came for the last 3 days; we returned on Monday last: I had a beautiful walk (ten miles, of the brightest Friday) the day I went out there; one nice ride too, with the new Lord Ashburton; for the rest, did not sleep very well in their grand rooms;—“di tha' neither ill na' guid!”—

They are busy printing Cromwell, as before; I try again to write something else, but with little effect hitherto! I must, if possible, go on trying. In the Spectator of this evening (which you will get with the Examiner) is an article by me on Ireland and Sir Rt Peel;1—very fierce upon poor little Lord John Russel; of whom, in truth, I am wearying much, in these times. From Peel I still hope a beginning of real improvement for Ireland; and it seemed to me I was bound to write this word. So there you have it.— I send Fraser this day; but it is possible you may not get it either till monday.

The people are about setting up a Statue or memorial to Oliver Cromwell;2 are writing in the Newspapers, holding meetings &c; but do not seem to know well what will come of it yet. As for “Memorials,” the people having subscribed a £25,000 one to an ugly bullock of a Hudson, who did not even pretend to have any merit except that of being suddenly rich, and who is now suddenly discovered to be little other than at heart a horse-couper and dishonest fellow,3— I think they ought to leave Cromwell alone of their “memorials,” and try to honour him in some more profitable way. By learning to be honest men like him, for example!— But we shall see what comes of all this Cromwell work;—a thing not quite without value either. A man wrote to me last night from “St. Ives” (where Oliver once lived) a queer letter on the subject, which I have not yet answered.

Mrs Anthony Sterling is again out of her wits, poor woman; her Mother4 has come, who is an idle galloping fashionable woman (I understand) hardly with much wits to get out of. Poor Anthony, who runs (twice a week or so) between his country place and his town one where his Wife now is, feels naturally extremely miserable; but he strictly holds his tongue about it, smothers it down within him;—he is a fiery little stump of a man, very brave and generous, not very reasonable or sufficiently patient always; and often brings me in mind of my Brother Alick.— Poor Alick, he is doing better now, let us be thankful to see! I wrote him a word last Friday (yesterday week, before setting off for Addiscombe); Jack too wrote then.

My dear Mother, what a wretched dud is this for so dear a Mother as you are to me! “The plans of mice and men,”5—alas, they are not the thing that is got executed!— But you are very good always, and take the will for the deed. Thank Isabella very much; bid her write again. Tell Jamie the Ham (daily yielding to fate) is unsurpassable. My heart's blessing with you all!

T. Carlyle