January 1835-June 1836

The Collected Letters, Volume 8


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 1 May 1835; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18350501-TC-MAC-01; CL 8:108-113.


Chelsea, London, / 1st May 1835

My Dear Mother,

As you heard from me so very lately I will be brief tonight: but the Frank and Jack's Letter must not go without a word from me. We are “well, and going on in the old way”; that is the sum and substance of all I have to tell you.

The Examiner you did not get last week; but I daresay you already imputed it to some other than the most punctual me. In fact, it was Leigh Hunt's fault or misfortune: he sent me the two Examiners just last night; and this night they are underway to you: I read what I wanted of them before Coffee this morning. When no Examiner comes, you may in general count on getting some Newspaper or other on Sabbath: however, I believe I disappointed you last week even in that; there happened (greatly to my own disappointment, when I looked) to be no Newspaper forthcoming on the Friday. It is no trouble to me the sending of these Newspapers: I walk daily out; and nine times out of ten I prefer walking townwards at any rate; that is straight past the Post-Office, for there is one which road soever I take. The bustle of living creatures all dashing and driving along is in general far more interesting to me than any country walk I can get here: indeed these walks on the bare edge of the Glaisters Hill1 may serve me for country walks, I think, some years yet.

Jack you will see, and have probably heard in your own Letter, promises, if all go well, to be home with us in the end of June. I wish we saw him! Let us trust in a Good Providence, we shall; and meet together all of us yet again, for the better and not for the worse!— I have sent off a long Letter to Jack this day; to lie for him at Bologna (in the North of Italy), where it will likely be before he is. If the “bowls row right,”2 I shall be done with my poor volume by the time he comes; and then with what joy shall we start together for the North!

Jane has had a sort of cold, which is mostly gone now: the like has been very general; what they call an influenza; so bad has the Spring weather been: first oppressively hot; then three weeks of as bitter northerly Cold as I can recollect; which last is only just ended, in a plunge of rain that kept falling for four-and-twenty hours.

We are parting with our Lancaster servant: it is impossible for human patience to put up with such transcendency of pluistering [slovenly messing] any longer. Scotch dirt is cleanliness to the English dirt when they are dirty. I believe this poor creature (who is otherwise full of innocence, and even not without sense) has some bodily disease; the quantity of Bread she eats is said to be enormous—fully three times the natural quantity; yet she looks well and rosy. Jane wrote to the Mother at Lancaster; advising that the girl should be sent for home; which has been done. She goes on Monday; and I shall wish heartily that she may be well, at a distance from me.3— Our new Servant is an old one of Mrs Austin's; who in all human probability will not be such a slut of sluts as this: stern experience has taught me to expect little of the like of her. I often passionately declare that (if it were not for the talk of the world) I would really rather take some little apartment, and cook and sweep for myself. As my brave Uncle Tom4 did! A nation that is made up of such wretched mortals as these cannot but go (and pretty rapidly) to all kinds of confusion. Holcroft,5 who was here today, told us about being down at Sheerness this week; seeing a Ship with Female Emigrants sail for New Holland: there were between 200 and 300 young women; what do you think the sea-store of some of them consisted of? The whole stock they had set out to sail round the world with? Besides the duds [clothes] on their back: a grey-paper bag, with three or four biscuits, and—a Lace Cap! Holcroft says there were several of them that had just this. Happily the “Managing Committee” had (underhand) provided them with clothes and necessaries. They sailed, some greeting [crying], some singing; but waved their bonnets and gave three cheers as the ship bore away. It is a good outlet for shifty [resourceful] decent young women: “between 15 and 30 years old.”6

I find no notice about Jack's money in the Letter; and suppose Lady Clare or somebody must have made some omission or suffered some mistake about it: however, it is no matter; for of the money itself there cannot be any danger. I mentioned to Jack how it stood; and also that I had desired you not to wait longer for it, but to go and pay your visit.

There is a great sugh [windy noise] going on here with changes in Government, &c; which we happily hear as little of as possible. To us they can literally “do neither ill na' guid.” I see nothing but change on change; and any change for the better still at a great distance. The Torys are desperate at being out; and may (if this poor half-daft Majesty of ours live long) get in again for a short time: but they and the like of them are evidently on quick march towards dissolution and oblivion. The Ex-Chancellor (Brougham) is secretly publishing some of the strangest stuff about Lords and the House of Lords:7 very significant that the conclusion is drawing on. “I have seen it visibly,” as you say, dear Mother: for indeed it is a thing to be seen. Wellington has disappointed me,—unless he means to come back another time. Or perhaps he is at bottom only a wooden man; and has done what he could [d]o. I saw him not many nights ago stepping across Piccadilly into his House, in the quiet dusk: a greywhiskered, hollow-cheeked, surprised-looking, almost foolish-looking old gentleman; whose physiognomy surely inspired me with no terror or reverence. He had to go his way, I mine.

Mrs Austin seems to be here again; half in secret; looking after the letting of her house. We are to go up and drink tea with her; and she promises Jane a chair; I and herself are to sit on stools or as tailors do, for the whole establishment is dismantled. It is truly sad to see how soon the place of the most popular public favourites is filled up: Mrs A. had carriages by the score at her house daily, and you could not see her, or hear yourself speak to her for the cackle of admiring lady-visitors, and already it seems to be forgotten that she ever existed: nobody can give you the smallest news of her; appears to think any speech on the subject a superfluity.—— Jane wants “a little Postscript” for tomorrow: tonight she is not well with her head. I must leave off therefore with excessive abruptness. Good night, dear Mother; good night to you and all of them! May the great Preserver watch over you!— T.C.

[JWC's postscript:]8

I too am coming, dear Mother, and expect a share of the welcome! For tho' I am no son nor even much worth as a daughter—you have a heart where there is “coot and coom again.[”]9 I think of nothing so much at present as this journey to Scotland[.] All the sea sickness and fatigues of my former journeys do not damp my ardour for this one. Carlyle has not told you a piece of news we heard yesterday, so curious as to be worth recording—Mrs Badams who a year and half ago made such outrageous weeping and wailing over the death of her Husband is on the eve of a second marriage (has been engaged for months back) to a French-man who is—her own half-nephew!!! the son of a Sister who was daughter of the same Father by a former wife!10 such things it seems are tolerated in France—to us here it seems rather shocking— Such is the upshot of all poor Badams's labours and anxieties and sacrifices of soul and body in amassing money! Himself lies killed with Brandy and vexation in a London churchyard and the wreck of his wealth goes to supply the extravagancies of a rabble of mongrel French who have neither common sense nor common decency.

I have just had a call from an old rejected Lover who has been in India these ten years.11 Tho' he has come home with more thousands of pounds than we are ever likely to have hundreds or even scores[,] the sight of [him] did [not] make me doubt the wisdom of my preference— Indeed I continue quite content with [my] bargain. I could wish him a little less yellow, and a litt[le] [mo]re peaceable; but that is all!

What a quantity of wee wains I shall have to inspect! Tho I doubt if any of them will equal the first wee Jane whom I hope they are not suffering to forget me. Truly you are become a mighty nation! God prosper it!

Your affectionate /

Jane Welsh Carlyle


The ‘wee wains’ (weans) are Sister Mary's and Sister Jean's, and Brr Alick's,—wee ‘Jane,’ her namesake, is Brr Alick's eldest.— ‘Mighty nation’ had this origin (derived by traditn of mine): My Mother, in the act of removing from Ecclefn to Mainhill (in 1816), whh was a serious new adventure to the family and her, had (as she privately told me) remembered vividly the first time she came down that road riding towards Ecclefn, as a little girl behind her Father,—towards an Aunt, and unknow[n] fortune in that new country,—and how she cd now piously say of herself like Jacob, “Now hath the Lord made of me a great natn12 Good dear Mother!—

I almost think this promised visit to Scotsbrig did not take effect,—John's own part of it having failed, and general uncertainty having thereupon supervened. I was myself in dreadful struggle with the burnt First vol. of Frh Revoln; miserable accidt whh had befallen 3 months before this date; but whh (having persisted to finish “Book i, Vol II” before turning back) I had now first practically grappled with, and found how near it bordered on the absolutely insuperable! Certainly the impossiblest-looking Lity Problem I ever had: “resembles swimming in an element not of water, but of quasi-vacuum,” said I mournfully, almost desperately: “by main force, impossible I find!”—and so had flung it all by, abt this date; and for 4 weeks abt this date was reading the trashiest heap of Novels (Maryatt's13 &c) to hush-down my mind, and as it were bury the disaster under ashes for a time. Abt 1 july I cautiously, gingerly, stept up to the affair agn, and gradually got it done. How my Darling behaved under all this, with what heroism and what love I have mentioned elsewhere. I find she renounced Scotland for this year, and instead appointed her Mother to come and visit us here, Whh did take effect, as will be seen.

This Document
Right arrow Similar letters
Right arrow Alert me to new volumes
Right arrow Add to My Carlyle Folder
Right arrow Download to citation manager
Right arrow Purchase a volume of the print edition
Right arrowSubject terms:
Right arrowRecipient terms: