October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 26 March 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330326-TC-MAC-01; CL 6:352-354.


Edinr, 26th March, 1833—

My Dear Mother,

You are to be Lady of the least share today, unless you reckon in John's Letter too, which will make matters up. I hope the whole with the two Dud Magazines will reach you safe on Thursday.1

I have finished my Paper on the “Quack of Quacks”; but got no new one fallen to; the house being in a kind of racket for the present. Mrs Welsh is here, and Miss Helen Welsh from Liverpool; and tho', if I determine on it, I can have my own fire, and room and bolt it against all people, it seems not worth while at present, for I am better resting. I had made myself bilious enough with my writing, and had need to recover; as I am doing.2

Mrs Welsh is greatly failed since we left her, that is to say, in looks, for intrinsically I hope and believe she is better. Her face for the first time looks wrinkled, and decidedly old. She is weak, and lonely, but does not lose heart. The Doctor expects this little trip may do her good; as I think it may too. Helen is a brisk young damsel, of eighteen; strikingly reminds one of her little Aunt Jeannie; another and not the same!

As for my own dame, she agrees but indifferently with these wild March winds; as I fear my Mother too does. The advice I will always reiterate is: Take care of yourself, dear Mother! Such splashing and sleeting, with bright deceitful sunblinks, and the fierce nipping north-wind, need in all ways to be guarded against. Put on plenty of flannel, be careful as ever about diet; go out as seldom as you possibly can, when the weather is unfavourable. I daresay your farmers too find it a very bad seed time: a man from Haddington, the other day, told me there was not a handful sown in East Lothian yet, so wet was everything.

Alick tells me that Austin is to stay with you another year; which, I daresay, is much the best arrangement for all parties. We hope Mary and the Child are doing well. They may expect a better chance of settlement some time within the twelvemonth.

Jane is for East Lothian, one of these weeks; I think I shall hardly go. There is nothing there for me but the old story over again: what work I can do lies mostly here.

The Floor that fell last day I was writing killed one man; a Banker living not far from this.3 He was just bidding at a Picture. One of his sons was with him, and escaped: the other is said to be almost in a state of distraction with grief.

I have not called on Dr M'Crie; but will now that I am idler; perhaps tomorrow. Macvey Napier has been obliged (by dunning) to pay me my money; he has paid rather stintedly, but it will do. We are to dine with him on friday [sic]:4 my writing for him is probably over.

All things are very stagnant here; many people, I doubt, ill off; a great number are going to America.5 They are truly hard Times: well if there is a clear ETERNITY behind them!

The very Clergy cannot get their stipends paid. They have fallen off a third last year; the people let their furniture be seized, and put to sale, and then nobody will bid for it. Ominous signs! However, it is conjectured they mean to abolish the law of Patronage; then Church matters may go on a little better.6

There is a Letter here for Jean;7 which, unless she voluntarily show it you, you are not to ask for a sight of.

Did Alick show you Irving's speech at the Annan Presbytery? I read it with a mixture of admiration and deep pain: the man is of such heroic temper, and of head so distracted. The whole matter looked to me like a horrid kind of Merry-Andrew Tragedy.8 Poor Dow,9 I think, will end in a madhouse; Irving will end one cannot prophecy how; he must go from wild to wilder. This is the issue of what once appeared the highest blessing for him: Popularity!

But I will finish here; time is pressing, and there is so much wrapping and packing yet to do; and another Note to write to M'Diarmid. I hope to bring a Paper of my own home with me, and give it you. Who knows but Jack and all may meet us there before harvest! I have not written to him yet; but will, probably this week.

What a day of sleet-deluges! Jane and her Mother and Cousin are all off to George's Square (Bradfute's), and have left me to eat in solitude: they are to be home, after tea; under roof of hackney Coach.

Do not forget to present in an especial manner my brotherly regards to little Jenny: I begin to have a very great regard for her, and esteem much her quiet prudent ways.

God always keep you all! I remain ever, / My Dear Mother, / Your affectionate

T. Carlyle—