July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 19 May 1837; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18370519-TC-MAC-01; CL 9:205-208.


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London / 19th May 1837—

My Dear Mother,

I fancy you will be glad to hear a word from me today; and so tho' I have time but for a word (and seem to have got a very bad pen to boot), I will despatch you what I can. By various Newspapers that we have sent you would see how the Lectures were going on;1 very tolerably indeed to the surprise and satisfaction of parties interested. I found myself in an awful flurry at first; but gradually recovered; and can go on now with comparative comfort.2 The audience seems to be between two and three hundred; a set of the discreetest, most attentive best-bred people I ever saw. It is very curious to hear the wild Annandale voice speaking down upon these high-cultivated dignitaries and marchionesses; and how patient and silent they sit under it. I have given them a variety of deliverances, upon Luther &c &c, which I was by no means sure they would receive so well. On the whole there is is [sic] great reason to be thankful that we have got on so handsomely hitherto: reason above all to be thankful that one has got so near done with it. I delivered my fifth Lecture yesterday; and had, by the bargain, only one more to give: however, the people seemed so anxious about it, I determined to give them another; and so, on Monday next and also on Friday, I have to make my appearance again; and then it is over and I am a free man!3 I will write to you before long after that; so soon as anything is settled about my motions. For the present, I think the best thing I can set about then will be to dig the Garden here, which is lying very waste, and will offer a good steady job to calm me down again.— You need not be black-baised then, my dear Mother, about this thing; but take heart and be thankful with me that it all goes very well.

The Book too is fairly out some ten days ago, and I have sent away the few copies I had to give, and have cleared the house of all borrowed French Books, Mill's and others; and feel at last wholly delivered from the unspeakable burden I carried so long. What the Critics say of the work I take no pains to know, or rather would take pains not to know. It is enough for me that I have done my part in it; they can now do theirs, the best way they can. I rather conjecture that all the small fry of critics (a set of the despicablest mortals living) will be afflicted at the thing; and the better kind of critics on the whole pleased: which is exactly as it ought to be. Mill tells me he is busy at a Review of me even now; he calls himself much contented; and is no insufficient judge, especially on this subject which he has studied to great lengths. I calculated on not getting a penny or a pen[ny]worth in any way by the business; so I wait “with unspeakable compos[ure]”4 which way it may go; safe am I at any rate.

It is above a week since I sent off your copies for James Aitken at Dumfries. They were ordered to be sent by Coach from Edinburgh. It is possible they may come very soon, or may have already come. James can indicate by a single stroke on the Newspaper [wh]en he gets them safe. To write a Letter would be better; but that takes time; and I suppose all is especially busy at this season. But above all let no one write on the Newspaper: it is a dangerous thing, and not altogether a just one. Yesterday no farther gone there came a Newspaper again all splatched with Post-office seals &c, and charged 16 shillings and odds; which we refused. I was out when it came; and Jane could form no guess about whom it came from. I suspect Rob Hanning once more, unless it were some of the Annan people. Let us, while the play is good, give it up; and always write a Note rather, were it never so short.

Poor Ben Nelson has lost his son: he found him dead and buried when he got to Heidelberg; a melancholy thing as one can imagine. Ben bears it wonderfully. I saw him off yesternight, to Liverpool, where he ought to arrive tonight. I sent with him the little American Review promised to James Aitken which I had got a few days before, after long delays. Ben will probably send it forward not the next Wednesday, but the second: James's name and address is on it. There were only 3 copies of the French Revolution destined for the home Household: one copy for you; one for Alick; and a third marked “for general use”; which I intended should be sent from house to house among those of the brethren that wanted to [read it] and had no copy of their own. My Mother was to be directress of it [and see] who was to get it after whom. At one time it was my clear purpose to send [every one] of you a copy: but when there came at last to be a kind of chance (as there now is) that the whole Edition might sell and a fraction of money lie at the bottom of it, I gave away none that did not seem absolutely needful, not above the third part of what I meant. Nobody in your region has got any; except the Churches of Kirkchrist who were good to me of old, and Mrs Johnstone of Grange who in her widowed forsaken state had a double claim on me. I gave copies here to three of the people who had been at the bottom of this my lecturing speculation:5 but all manner of rich people, Bullers &c, I left either to read the Book at their own cost, or to leave it altogether unread.

There is not yet [an] answer from Mr Greig in America; nor indeed is it very near the time yet for one. Forty days to go, forty to come, and the little intermediate delays; one may almost grant three months for Letter and answer. They have come in two sometimes but that is a rarity.— It somehow strikes me that Alick will not go this summer; that I shall still find him to welcome me when I arrive. I can give no advice; only now as ever my hearty prayers and affection. I hope he sets a stout calm face to it; and that you and all of you study to cheer and encourage, and look at the best side of it. We may really with reason trust that it will be for good not for evil.— I have of course no farther news from Jack. I have sent him a copy of the Book, by Paris and a path he marked out; but whether he will get it, seems rather uncertain to me.— The sheet is full dear Mother and I must go. I force myself to believe that you are not out of order, that nothing is wrong. But you will write soon to say positively.

Good be with you all!—

Your ever affectionate