July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 7 December 1837; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18371207-TC-MAC-01; CL 9:356-359.


Chelsea, 7th Decr, 1837—

My dear Mother,

Jenny's Letters and yours came in due course;1 and right welcome it was, and told me much I was anxious to know. I like very well your staying where you are till the sun get out again. They are dead days these at Scotsbrig in all senses; so dark, so motionless, so clarty [dirty] and cheerless: you will be warmer and livelier where you are. Do not venture out too much, however, even in Manchester; not without good wrappage, and your mud-shoes on! It is full of fog, damp frost, reek and glar [mud]: be thankful that you are on the outer skirt of it. And so let Jenny marble her hearth, scour the grate bright, and put a good fire in it; while Robert like a brisk man goes his gates [journeys], and rests himself when the day is done: and draw all round the ingle; and be cozy, and thankful to Heaven that sends us any comfort.—— I despatched a packet of Books, some eight days ago; by the old address; which I may hope would bring them. They are not much worth; but will serve to shorten a long 'fore-supper2 harmlessly enough. I sent your Letter on to Alick, and wrote him another along with it not long since. I have heard nothing direct out of Annandale. The Newspaper with its strokes comes duly; that is my only token. The Roman Newspaper with three strokes that Jack spoke of, that was to indicate his arrival in Rome, did come; but I sent it on to Jean,—the rather as the last had failed with you, tho' there was a very sufficient Stamp on it, had the people looked well. But indeed it was altogether as good to you shewn at the door and refused, as if you had had it to read it, and distil, and boil broth of it;—nothing more lay in it to be got out of it.

And now here is a new Letter from the good Doctor;3 and again nothing but good news in it: let us be thankful. He has had some fash [difficulties] with his lodgings, but that is over now. His Lady, by the by, seems to be a very make-myself-comfortable sort of lady; and would have provoked me several times, where Jack (far more wisely) keeps his temper.4 It is right and indispensable. If a person whether lady or gentleman be of disobliging temper, it is really far worst for that lady's or gentleman's own self; one ought to remember that always. The quality ways in this world will need a “radical reform,” I think, however; and they are like to get it, one would say! —I will write to Jack tomorrow or next day.

Directly after or very soon after my last Letter to you went off, I did begin to [write] that Article on Walter Scott, which there was talk of then. I felt disgusted with the task, but in some measure bound to do it. Accordingly it is done, last night, thank Heaven!5 A long, occasionally rather stupid Article; for which however I shall likely get a matter of £50, always useful here. There will I think be some uncertainty about the time of its coming out; perhaps not till April next;6 that is no matter. Here the thing lies, fairly sealed up and finished, and will be out of my hands in an hour; you shall see it, as I hope, when it comes out; I will take care to have it forwarded in some way. I have been obliged to say several rather crabbed things about Sir Walter, and to take down the pegs greatly in respect of the admiration many have of him: but there is nothing malicious or unjust; nay I end, as one should do with all men, in sincere love and pity for him.

Before quitting Literature, I must tell you a still better thing. Fraser the other day sent for me, to propose that he should reprint Teufelsdröckh and my Review Articles collected into volumes. The wind is changed there, at any rate! The last time he heard of Teufelsdröckh and the proposal to print it, he shrieked at the very notion. Seriously, it is good news this; an infallible sign that the other Book, the F. Revolution, prospers: nay still better, a sign that I shall either now or some time get a little cash by these poor scattered Papers. I have resolved that Fraser, for his old scream's sake, and for my own sake, shall not have the printing of the volumes without7 some very respectable sum of money now:—he should have done it formerly, and not screamed!— How it may be settled is very uncertain yet; I have not got the negociation started, but will proceed to it now.8 So much for business.

We got the Scotsbrig barrel, two days after your Letter came. All was right and tight as could be. The butter is very good; the meal is of the best that can be made. The cheese I think must be still lying at Mary's: tell her not to mind, a whit; but cut into it, and consume it. There were some sweeties, peppermints and a pound of tobacco from Alick—poor Alick, the first of his shop-goods; we received them with a most wishful thankfulness, glad and wae [sad].— I wrote to warn Jamie and him (it was to him I wrote) that all was right. I hope he will answer me soon; with good accounts— The charge of carriage was 11/6; very cheap.

As to health, Jane holds out wonderfully well, without cough at all; better hitherto than for several winters back. She takes great care; never ventures out at all except the day be good. I question whether even in reeky Manchester you have any idea of some of our days here: the London Fogs! We have had two right ones or three, this year; the last only a few days ago.9 It is nothing at Chelsea; yet I had to send for a candle to write with, a little before noon: up in town a man (for example) drove a carriage into a grand corner shop in one of the best streets (St James's Street); and broke two and forty panes of glass, among other things!10— Today, and always since yesternight, we have had a kind of faint dirty sleet, which I doubt may be effectual snow northward with you. Cower close in the warm place, dear Mother! It is winter, and we must be content with bad weather.

My ear is not right yet, tho' it is better. The hearing is not greatly dulled, [written between lines, in JWC's hand: “indeed so little dulled, that the fai[n]test ‘squirting’ of my pen drives him to despair”] but there is a confusing stuffed sensation in the place; and thin wax runs: I keep cotton in it; and have grown now to heed it little. Indeed during all the November month, while writing that thing, I have had a kind of uneasy hardly perceptible cold, which did not grow a right cold, and yet would not let me go: I mean to fling it off now.

But I must go, dear Mother, my time is about run, and the sheet ends here. Thank Jenny, and thank yourself, very specially for the letter; and see to get another up before long. Good be among you; good be with every one of you! Jane joins her loving regards. I am ever and ever,

Your affectionate /

T. Carlyle