July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 11 June 1837; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18370611-TC-MAC-01; CL 9:224-232.


Chelsea, 11th June, 1837—

My dear Mother,

I make no doubt but you are wearying much to hear of me, what I am about, what I mean to do. My last Letter was hardly intelligible; written in such haste and confusion. I send you a short word today; it need not be a long one, as I hope to see you face to face so soon.

Ever since I wrote, I have been as idle as a man need be. The Garden is all dug and cleared, the bushes all pruned; I lie about on chairs and sofas, reading harmless books, or stroll out among the green hedges; and rest as well as I can. On the whole, I am better than I could expect. The late and cool summer too suits me, if it suit nothing else; we have moisture, we have wind; so long as that will last, this is a very good summer place for me, and my natural laziness has recommended me to lie still. Now however, I think, the hot weather is coming: in that case, I must actually bestir myself, and get under way.

Accordingly I have procured all manner of Coach Advertisement[s,] Steamboat Advertisements &c, and am seriously beginning to consider. I have fixed no day yet, nor no way; but I think I will go by Manchester; I think I shall have a chance to see in perhaps a fortnight hence, or less. The end of this week or the beginning of next; that is the time spoken of for departure. My likeliest route after all is by some Coach to Manchester at once. I will write of course to Jenny to give warning. My next Letter to you I hope will be a short one, somewhere from the north of England; announcing which day I shall come. You can keep asking from time to time. I hope to land safe at Annan Waterfoot,1 and see you all safe.

Jane goes on very well here, and gathers strength in the good weather. One would call her quite as well as usual; which is rather surprising, considering the state she was in not many months ago. Her Mother is to stay with her till I come back; unless a journey to me in Scotland should grow to seem advisable.— I will bring a Book or two with me; I hope Jamie has some kind of quadruped, dwarf-carthorse or other; I mean to lie hidden from all the world, and not speak above three or four words in a day.

There is still no Letter from America, nor do I know certainly when one is to be looked for. What Alick has done with himself in the interim I often guess; but shall probably make out nothing till I see him with my eyes. If there is anything I can do for him in Lancashire he might have a Letter waiting for me at Hannings: mark “to wait” on it. It should be off from Annan or Ecclefechan before the 17th of the month; or if he direct “Care of John Welsh Esqr, 3. Maryland Street, Liverpool,” a day or two later might still be in time. Tell him to possess his soul in calmness; there is still no danger of him, if he stand true to himself: nothing is ever desperate for a man, nay he knows not whether it is even calamitous and not a blessing in disguise, so long as his own heart and his own head have not deserted him.— I had a Newspaper from Jack the day before yesterday; there were two strokes indicating that he was well. Whether he meant farther to indicate that the French Revolution sheets which I sent off had arrived, I do not know, but rather hope yes. He is to direct next time to Scotsbrig.

Anne Cook is to leave us on Saturday or perhaps Friday.2 There is another servant coming on Saturday;3 a Country girl from Northamptonshire; whom Jane has got word of thro' the Sterlings: it is probable she too will do well enough for a season. There goes a saying here that Country girls do very well in London for nearly two years; but the terror of the place having worn off, and unwise acquaintances having been formed in that time, the Country girl finds it suitable to shift. This poor Anne is a contented good-natured soul as need be wished, and has done well enough here, considering all things. I think she would fully as soon continue in London, in some other service since not in ours; but that will not readily do. We sent her yesterday to take counsel with one Richardson,4 a very decent corporal from Annan, how she should go home: he recommends Liverpool where she has friends, which is a route without any difficulty. He was to write to her friends, and undertakes to see her under way; she speaks about going out to some Tea-people of the name of Brown5 (I think, from St. Mungo) to stay with them a day or two before departing: Richardson after Saturday will know better about her movements than we, who do not expect to see her again. I hope she will get well home again to her people, and our connexion terminate as handsomely as is needful.

I might scribble away here, my dear Mother, for a long time, and throw light or no-light on many things: but the essential thing seems to have been said, That I am coming to you so soon, and shall explain all by word of mouth. My pen too is very bad, and I ought to be out in the air. Farewell then my dear Mother, I hope, for only a little while! Jane's love is for you all and sundry, as mine is. I rejoice greatly in the blessed prospect of summer days and kind friends. Ever

your affectionate,

T. Carly[le]

If I do not get a frank readily, I will strip this off, and send the enclosure by Post.— They say, by the by, we are soon to get a Penny Postage for all British Letters whatsoever!6 It will be a mighty improvement [for a]ll and sundry.

The King is by many said to be dying, here; dropsy in the heart.7 Poor old fellow, I saw him about a fortnight ago, coming in from Windsor thro' Hyde Park: he looked fresh and decent; clean as from spring water. The little boys cried: “Ha, old Billy, how d'ye do?” The Queen they say is in very bad health too. The last hope of the Tories at present is like to go out with “old Billy.”8