The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 23 February 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500223-TC-JAC-01; CL 25: 32-33


Chelsea, 23 feby, 1850

Dear Brother,—We got your Letter this morning, after long wearying for it; thanks to you. Jane says you are still in her debt. We concluded you were got sunk into your Purgatorio task, and did not care to interrupt yourself. A brief Note very frequently, to mark where you are, and where the outer world about you is, will do no ill,—none to you, and good to us.

I am glad indeed to hear of the goings on at Scotsbrig, and that all is still pretty well there,—tho' my Mother's eyes, and the interruption they bring to her reading, are a bad item. You did well to send for Garthwaite and get that Carpet despatched. I delight to think of my good old Mother having a comfortable Carpet to step on; and you may very confidently assure her, such a pleasure would have been cheap to me at ten times the “expense”!— There is a good little Book here for her, which I myself will finish tonight,—Vertot's Revolutns of Sweden,1 really good reading,—so soon as her eyes are better. I suppose you direct her in the mean time to give her eyes holiday rather, however she may weary. I wish you had some of our fine February days for her: occasionally quite beautiful days, tho' we have a share of mud and tempest still: but we are about a fortnight ahead of you by the Almanac; wait a fortnight and you will be up to us.

The enclosed Letters are not good for much: but I wished my Mother to see the Aberdeen one, and to get your explanation of “the Lord Rectorship,” and what kind of wonderful Heroico-farcical Bacon's-play it is!2 Masson and Bain had called, the night before, and told me about such a thing they had seen in the Newspapers;3 otherwise it would have quite mystified me when the Letter itself came. To think of running a candidatecy,4 in such a ploy, along with his small redheaded Grace, and indeed of the thing altogether, tickles one a little not in a disagreeable way. His Grace I suppose stands for the Free Kirk;5 I for some German neologistic element and Progress of the Humand6 mind; and so the poor boys, in their red cloakies,7 go running about like hens with egg! Bain & Mn spoke of Lockhart as a nominee too but he seems to have fallen away.— We do not think there is any chance but the Duke will be elected: if it fell out otherwise, Jane asserts I shd have to go to Aberdeen and make a lay-sermon;—but we hope better things tho' we thus speak.8

I am deep in No 3 named “Downing Street”; and get on terribly ill. The whole clay of No 3 is lying here, in print most of it; but the figure wants features, above all wants eyes; and my hand is not well in just now.— Do not grudge trouble for the Purgatorio; I tell you always it will last a very long while in the world! But don't bother too much over “graceful phrases” &c: direct your whole struggle to understand the meaning completely, and to give it with all exactness; be satisfied if we have it intelligible, and dash along witht minding grace. And good speed to you!

With my love to my Mother and them all,— Yrs ever T. Carlyle