The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 13 March 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520313-TC-JAC-01; CL 27: 68-70


Chelsea, Saturday [13 March 1852]—

My dear Brother,

I have had your two Notes; the first came before Jamie's went off but not till after it was sealed: many thanks to you for both. We are much gratified, & almost as it were surprised, to hear how our good old Mother stands out against the unwholesome weather: there has been nothing equal to it for discomfort, dust, and dry withering cold all this year; and very many are driven out of order by it. Here in this house, it has quite cut up the servant Anne for one; who goes about piteously coughing, and has quite lost her very voice for some days past; and indeed now intends, by Jane's counsel, to withdraw from the concern altogether, and take to bed till she recover;—which costs Jane herself some considerable bother, getting a substitute, charwoman or other “help” till the poor soul get round again. tho' there must be towards a million working women in this place, and above 30,000 of them, as we often hear, are quite out of work, it seems to be as good as impossible to get real household service (or indeed I fear any kind of real service) for money here! I often say, things are hastening towards strange consummations in human society at present! But we must leave all that to find what course it can. Not even the Jew Stump-orator1 can much mend that. With a murrian2 on it, and on him!—

Some people in Manchester have instituted a thing they call “Poor-Law Association,” intended for getting Paupers set to work. I wrote them a Letter of encouragt, gave them a sovereign of subscriptn:3 they printed the Letter (without leave), and defended it from some illnatured dog or other, of whom you might see some glimpse once in the Leader: they write now that they are so very strong, they are thinking of a public meeting in Manchester, and ask if they “may be quite certain” of my attending! It will rather seem to myself a strange fact if I “attend” at this particular junction.

We are much interested about poor your Jamie's4 course, and sympathize with the straits he and all of [you] must be in just now in reference to that. Poor fellow, he has arrived at the striking off of the way, and must quit the old quiet household road, and seek a new one for himself henceforth. Happily there is endless hope at his time of life, otherwise the pain would be too hard! I cannot take upon me to advise in such ignorance of the precise state of affairs: but if this George Bell5 is really (as wd appear) a good and rational man, whose word and character may be depended on, there certainly seems a great temptation to look in that direction for an outlet. He can explain to you, in some measure, what could be counted on as likely in that adventure; what he himself could engage for &c &c. Jamie's own feelings ought, next, to go for a great deal. He will have to venture out into the world on his own feet at this point; which is a heavy thought for the like of him: but at some point or other he has to do it, on any hypothesis; and truly, for an Emigrant, the younger one goes, I fancy, it must be the better. His chagrin and homesickness, poor young creature, will be very hard for him but they will soon get moderated too, and disappear in the activities of his new scene; where, for a diligent young fellow, there really seems to lie an honest free and altogether wholesome field of activity. Having fair abilities and an honest steady character, he might no doubt struggle along like others in this crowded scene of ours; but here too, it is undeniable, the difficulties toils and sufferings are manifold, and the confusion gets more and more suffocating! I cannot tell what to advise. I think it must depend most on himself and on G. Bell. We will wish you, with our whole hearts, a wise decision; and that, I suppose, is all that we can do, or nearly all. If there were anything else we should be very ready too.

I am still tumbling about among Books about Fredk; getting German maps, nay a Mapholder (of my own invention), and a huge magnifying glass (the size almost of a small brander) for reading maps with, whh answers very well. As to any Book, however, I fear there is yet no prospect whatever on my side; and I am often tempted to renounce it all, some good day.— — We were at Erskine's on Wednesday last to dinner: friendly but confusing, unprofitable, unwholesome even. Farie was not there; but some Bruce (of the Elgin breed),6 and two children of the Archbishop (Sumner, John Bird, to wit7), gaping after lions— aus denen wird Nichts [they will not amount to anything]. Oh take care of my dear old Mother. My love to one and all. Your affectionate

T. Carlyle