Unpublished Letters of Carlyle
THE letters of which the first installment is herewith printed were in great part written by Thomas Carlyle to his youngest sister, Mrs. Robert Hanning, who died in Toronto, December 13, 1897. Other members of the family are represented in the correspondence : there are a number of letters — these perhaps the most interesting — from Carlyle to his mother ; and a few from the mother to her oldest and to her youngest child. The collection extends from 1832 to 1890, when Mr. John Carlyle Aitken wrote to inform his aunt, Mrs. Hanning, of the death of James Carlyle, her youngest brother.
Mrs. Hanning (Janet Carlyle) was born, as were all her brothers and sisters before her, in the village of Ecclefechan, in a house, still standing, which their father had built with his own hands. The following notes of her life are supplied by her son-in-law, the Rev. George M. Franklin: —
“She was reckoned the neatest seamstress of the family, and received the rare compliment of praise from her eldest brother (Thomas Carlyle) for having done excellent work on some shirts. Robert Hanning, an old friend of the Carlyles, going to the same school with Janet, and ‘ looking on the same book,’ wooed and won her. They were married at Scotsbrig, on March 15, 1836. They went to Manchester, England, to live, as Mr. Hanning was employed by a Mr. Craig, and subsequently was a partner in the business. This business having proved unprofitable, they returned to Scotland, and Mr. Hanning entered into business with his brother Peter as partner. This proved also a failure. Soon afterward the family went back to Dumfries. Mr. Hanning sailed for America, arriving at New York ; and after working there for a time left that city for Hamilton, Ontario, his future home. Mrs. Hanning and her two children remained in Dumfries, although she had wished much to go with her husband and share his fortunes. Thomas persuaded her, 'against her judgment,’ as she has said, to wait until her husband was settled. Mr. Hanning was a man of strong convictions and the highest moral principle. The reunion of his family was effected in 1851, when the wife and two daughters left Glasgow in a sailing-vessel, the passage to Quebec occupying about seven weeks. Then taking a steamer from Quebec, they reached Hamilton in good time. This was before the building of the Great Western Railway. Mrs. Hanning soon made a home for her devoted husband, earning the commendation ‘ brave little sister.’ Mr. Hanning entered the service of the Great Western Railway of Canada in 1853, and remained with that company until his death, which occurred March 12, 1878.”
An indispensable guide to the correspondence will be found in the following list, given by Professor Norton, of the children of James Carlyle, with the dates of their births : Thomas, born December 4, 1795 (died at Chelsea February 5, 1881) ; Alexander, born August 4, 1797 ; Janet, born September 2, 1799 ; John Aitken, born July 7, 1801 ; Margaret, born September 20, 1803; James, born November 12, 1805 ; Mary, born February 2, 1808 ; Jean, born September 2, 1810 ; Janet (Mrs. Hanning) born July 18, 1813.
Among the persons mentioned by Mr. Franklin as visiting Mrs. Hanning, the most distinguished was Emerson, who went to Hamilton in the summer of 1865. “Mr. Emerson placed her in a chair near the window, so that he might the more readily examine her features, and, looking into her eyes, exclaimed, ‘And so this is Carlyle’s little sister !'”
Mention of “ the youngest stay of the house, little Jenny,” is rare and slight in the published letters and memorials of Carlyle. Froude, in an ingeniously careless passage, confuses her with an older sister, Jean. He speaks of “ the youngest child of all, Jane, called the Craw, or Crow, from her black hair.” Carlyle, on pages 92 and 93 of the second volume of the Reminiscences, — in Mr. Norton’s edition, —mentions both Jean and Jenny: “There was a younger and youngest sister (Jenny), who is now in Canada ; of far inferior ‘ speculative intellect ’ to Jean, but who has proved to have (we used to think) superior housekeeping faculties to hers.”
“ My prayers and affection are with you all, from little Jenny upwards to the head of the house,” writes Carlyle to his mother on October 19, 1826, after a form common enough, with its variations, in his early letters. Occasionally she has done something to be noted. On October 20, 1827 : “ Does Jenny bring home her medals yet ? ” On November 15 : “ Does Jenny still keep her medals ? Tell her that I still love her, and hope to find her a good lassie and to do her good.” In the spring of 1828 Carlyle writes from Scotsbrig to his “ Dear Little Craw ” in Edinburgh : “ Mag and Jenny are here ; Jenny at the Sewing-school with Jessie Combe, and making great progress.” Mrs. Carlyle adds, in a postscript to an 1835 letter to Mrs. Aitken : “ Carlyle has the impudence to say he forgot to send his compliments to Jenny ; as if it were possible for any one acquainted with that morsel of perfections to forget her ! Tell her I will write a letter with my own hand, and hope to see her ' an ornament to society in every direction.’ ” In a preface — written many years after— to a letter to Jean Carlyle, bearing date November, 1825, and signed Jane Baillie Welsh, Carlyle explains : “ This Jean Carlyle is my second youngest sister, then a little child of twelve. The youngest sister, youngest of us all, was Jenny [Janet], now Mrs. Robert Hanning, in Hamilton, Canada West. These little beings, in their bits of grey speckled [black and white] straw bonnets, I recollect as a pair of neat, brisk items, tripping about among us that summer at the Hill.” Letter and preface are given by Froude, as is also a letter from Carlyle to his wife, dated Scotsbrig, May 3, 1842, and ending thus : “ Yesterday I got my hair cropped, partly by my own endeavours in the front, chiefly by sister Jenny’s in the rear. I fear you will think it rather an original cut.”
In 1827: “Tell her that I still love her, and hope to find her a good lassie and to do her good ; ” in 1873, in Carlyle’s last letter to Mrs. Hanning written with his own hand : “ I please myself with the thought that you will accept this little New Year’s Gift from me as a sign of my unalterable affection, whh, tho’ it is obliged to be silent (unable to write as of old), cannot fade away until I myself do! Of that be always sure, my dear little Sister ; and that if in anything I can be of help to you or yours, I right willingly will.”
All the letters that follow are strung on a slender thread of biography. Even readers who know their Carlyle thoroughly may like to see, from year to year and from page to page, the contrast between his life in the world and his life with the peasant kindred who were so far from everything that men call the world. And although nothing in these letters will add to our knowledge of Carlyle, they cannot — taken together — fail to touch us freshly with the sense of what he was to his people, and what they were to him.
Carlyle’s life until 1832, the year of the first letter, may be most briefly summarized. The son of James Carlyle, a stone-mason, he was born at Ecclefechan, “in a room inconceivably small,” on the 4th of December, 1795. He went to school at Annan, and, in 1809, to the University of Edinburgh. Five years later he returned to the Annan school as a teacher of mathematics, and in 1816 went to Kirkcaldy to teach the same subject. After an experience of literary hack work in Edinburgh, which began when he was twenty-three years old, he became tutor in the Buller family. A long, strange, and ill-boding courtship ended, on the 17th of October, 1826, in his marriage with Jane Baillie Welsh. She had a small inherited estate at Craigenputtock, high up on the moors, and sixteen miles from Dumfries ; and there, two years after their marriage, they went to live for six years more. In 1831 and 1832 they were trying their wings in London.
“ Mrs. Welsh ” was Mrs. Carlyle’s mother. “ Maister Cairlill ” was a frequent name for Carlyle’s brother James. The family had been living at Scotsbrig since 1826. Carlyle was thirty-seven years old, and his sister nineteen, when the following letter was written.
I. CARLYLE TO JANET CARLYLE, SCOTSBRIG.
AMPTON ST., LONDON,
23rd January, 1832.
MY DEAR JENNY, —Will you put up with the smallest of letters rather than with none at all ? I have hardly a moment, and no paper but this thick, coarse sort.
Understand always, My dear Sister, that I love you well, and am very glad to see and hear that you conduct yourself as you ought. To you also, my little lassie, it is of infinite importance how you behave : were you to get a Kingdom, or twenty Kingdoms, it were but a pitiful trifle compared with this, whether you walked as God command you, and did your duty to God and to all men. You have a whole Life before you, to make much of or to make little of: see you choose the better part, my dear little sister, and make yourself and all of us pleased with you. I will add no more, but commend you from the heart (as we should all do one another) to God’s keeping. May He ever bless you! I am too late, and must not wait another minute. We have this instant had a long letter from Mrs. Welsh, full of kindness to our Mother and all of you. The Cheese, &c., &c., is faithfully commemorated as a “ noble ” one ; Mary is also made kind mention of. You did all very right on that occasion. Mrs. Welsh says she must come down to Scotsbrig and see you all. What will you think of that ? Her Father, in the meantime, is very ill, and gives her incessant labour and anxiety.
See to encourage Jean to write, and do you put your hand a little to the work. What does Maister Cairlill think of the last letter he wrote us ? Was it not a letter among many ? He is a graceless man. I send you a portrait of one of our Chief Radicals here: it is said to be very like.
I remain always, My dear Sister, Your affectionate
On January 24, — Froude gives the date wrongly as the 26th, — the day after the date of this letter, Carlyle, still in London, heard of the death of his father, at the age of seventy-three. He wrote immediately to his mother in terms which place the letter high even among his letters ; and in less than a week he had uttered the wail of genius that stands first in the Reminiscences, — a book which has “ no language but a cry.” By April he was back again at Craigenputtock, where it was so still that poor Mrs. Carlyle could hear the sheep nibbling a quarter of a mile away. Carlyle had now a new grief in the death of Goethe, who, making of him a disciple, had left him a teacher on his own account. The loss of Goethe found a measurable compensation in correspondence with Mill, who had been kindled into something very like fire by Carlyle’s review of Croker’s Boswell, just published in Fraser’s Magazine. It is one of the greatest of Carlyle’s briefer performances, although written at short notice. “Carlyle,”said his wife, “always writes well when he writes fast.” This essay, indeed, has a high place in the development of an idea which may be stated as Croker’s Boswell, Macaulay’s Boswell, Carlyle’s Boswell, and — Boswell.
There followed now essays on Goethe and Ebenezer Elliott’s Corn Law Rhymes (Carlyle’s last contribution to the Edinburgh Review), and a highly important article on Diderot for the Foreign Quarterly. In the autumn of 1832, Carlyle notes that the money from the essay on Goethe has gone in part payment of Jeffrey’s loan, that Craigenputtock has grown too lonely even for him, and that his literary plans demand a library. Not only must the work on Diderot have assured him of his ability to fuse and weld the most stubborn materials, but it opened his eyes to the French Revolution as a subject for his pen. Moved, then, by weariness of the solitude à deux among the peat moss, and by this new purpose in writing, the twain removed to Edinburgh toward the end of 1832.
Four months of Edinburgh were enough to convince Carlyle that here was for him no continuing city ; enough, also, to enable him to collect and carry back to Craigenputtock the substance of The Diamond Necklace, one of the best of his tragi-comic pieces.
The loneliness of “ the whinstone stronghold ” on the moors was cheered in the following August by Emerson’s memorable visit. “ We went out to walk over long hills,” writes Emerson in English Traits, “ and looked at Criffel, then without his cap, and down into Wordsworth’s country. There we sat down and talked of the immortality of the soul.”
The essay on Cagliostro, written in March, 1833, was printed in Fraser’s Magazine for July and August; and Fraser agreed to publish Sartor Resartus in the next volume, “ only fining Carlyle eight guineas a sheet for his originality.” This gadfly tax on genius ; the Foreign Quarterly’s refusal of The Diamond Necklace, patently a masterpiece though it was ; Jeffrey’s refusal to recommend Carlyle for a professorship of astronomy ; and, climactically, the defection of one of those maids whose misdemeanors continue a servile war through so many of the Carlyle chronicles, directed Carlyle’s gaze toward what Johnson thought the fairest prospect ever spread before a Scotchman. Emerson had observed that “ he was already turning his eyes towards London with a scholar’s appreciation,” and at last, on the 25th of February, 1834, Carlyle wrote to his brother John : “ We learned incidentally last week that Grace, our servant, though ‘ without fault to us,’ and whom we, with all her inertness, were nothing but purposing to keep, had resolved on ‘ going home next summer.’ The cup that had long been filling ran over with the smallest of drops. After meditating on it for a few minutes, we said to one another : ‘ Why not bolt out of all these sooty despicabilities, of Kerrags and lying draggle - tails of byrewomen, and peat-moss and isolation and exasperation and confusion, and go at once to London?’ Gedacht, gethan! Two days after we had a letter on the road to Mrs. Austin, to look out among the ' houses to let ’ for us, and an advertisement to Mac Diarmid to try for the letting of our own.” Cattle, poultry, and various superfluities, were sold. Carlyle went on ahead, and was guided by the airy steps of Leigh Hunt, then a dweller in Upper Cheyne Row, Chelsea, to the house Number 5, Great Cheyne Row, which the new tenants soon made interesting to much of what was best in London (to much, also, Mrs. Oliphant has taken pains to say, of what was not the best), and eventually to the Englishspeaking world. The house was not taken until Mrs. Carlyle had inspected and approved it. A few days after the 10th of June, the date of their installation, Carlyle wrote to his mother : “ We lie safe at a bend of the river, away from all the great roads; have air and quiet hardly inferior to Craigenputtock, an outlook from the back windows into mere leafy regions, with here and there a red high-peaked old roof looking through ; and see nothing of London, except by day the summits of St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, and by night the gleam of the great Babylon affronting the peaceful skies. The house itself is probably the best we have ever lived in, a right old, strong, roomy brickhouse, built near one hundred and fifty years ago, and likely to see three races of these modern fashionables fall before it comes down.” It all sounds like a sunny backwater, but in truth the Carlyles had taken a very bold plunge into the world-sea. Their reserve of money could have been, at the utmost, no more than three hundred pounds; and the only personal sign of the times for them was the fact that the writer of Sartor — now coming out in chapters — was thought a literary maniac, and that Fraser feared the ruin of his magazine.
The household gods, however, once templed in Cheyne Row, were never carried back across the Border; nor, in fact, were they, in the half-century of life that remained to Carlyle, removed to any other spot. Here he caught the last glimpse of Edward Irving, the friend of his youth ; here he welcomed Sterling, “ a new young figure,” the closest friend of his middle life ; and hither came to him Froude and Ruskin, his latest followers.
At first, in the chosen habitation, it was “ desperate hope ” and “ bitter thrift.” The readers of Fraser’s Magazine received Sartor each month with renewed disgust. “ Sartor,” said the publisher, “ excites universal disapprobation.” While this passionate history of a soul, with its motive so strangely drawn from the Holy Bible and the great, unholy Dean, was waiting to touch the slow spirit of the British reading public, Carlyle—taking counsel of his necessities, his ambition, and his inspirations — applied himself to the history of the French Revolution. The first volume — as all the world knows — was lent in manuscript to Mill, who lent it to Mrs. Taylor, his “ veevid ” and “ iridescent ” Egeria, whose servant kindled fires with it. Carlyle had not been offered, as he thought he should have been, the editorship of the new London and Westminster Review ; and Mill, for fear of his father, did not dare even to give him work to do for it. Carlyle himself had refused to sell his independence to the Times. There was thus nothing for it but to rewrite the burnt volume, of which he had kept no notes. With such vigor did he drive his mind and his pen that the lost chapters were restored by September 22, 1835. Mill had told him of the loss on the 6th of the preceding March. Mrs. Carlyle wrote to her sister-in-law, Mrs. Aitken, in August: " I do not think that the second version is, on the whole, inferior to the first; it is a little less vivacious, perhaps, but better thought and put together. One chapter more brings him to the end of his second ' first volume,’ and then we shall sing a Te Deum and get drunk ; for which, by the way, we have unusual facilities at present, a friend (Mr. Wilson) having yesterday sent us a present of a hamper (some six or seven pounds’ worth) of the finest old Madeira wine.”
Better yet than wine was an American edition of Sartor, godfathered by Emerson, to the number of five hundred copies. This was in April, 1836, and another edition was soon demanded. Carlyle amused himself by quoting Sartor, in his essay on Mirabeau, as the work of a New England writer.
“ The Doctor,” mentioned in the letter to follow, was Carlyle’s brother John, who, thanks to Jeffrey, had been for some years traveling physician to Lady Clare. “Anne Cook" was an Annandale servant whom Carlyle brought with him on his return from Scotsbrig, in October, 1835. Mrs. Carlyle wrote of Anne Cook, “ She amuses me every hour of the day with her perfect incomprehension of everything like ceremony ; ” and several of her homespun sayings became proverbs in Cheyne Row. “Short,” as Carlyle uses it in writing to his sister, has apparently the meaning often attached to it in New England,— “ short of temper.” The whole sentence bears a quizzing reference to the year before, when, on the 4th of June, Carlyle had written : “ Alick, writing to me yesterday, mentions among other things that you are shorted (as he phrases it) because I have not written. . . . Do not you shorten, my dear little Bairn, but lengthen, and know that if you take anything amiss, it is for mere want of seeing how it really was ; that of all delusions Satan could tempt you with, that of wanting my brotherly affection, now and always while we inhabit the Earth together, is the most delusive.” And on the 23d of December: “ Do not shorten, but lengthen.”
The “ second volume ” is, of course, the second volume of The French Revolution. Of both first and second Carlyle had written more vehemently to Emerson, a few weeks before : “ I got the fatal First Volume finished (in the miserablest way, after great efforts) in October last; my head was all in a whirl; I fled to Scotland and my Mother for a month of rest. Rest is nowhere for the Son of Adam ; all looked so ‘ spectral ’ to me in my old-familiar Birthland ; Hades itself could not have seemed stranger ; Annandale also was part of the kingdom of Time. Since November I have worked again as I could ; a second volume got wrapped up and sealed out of my sight within the last three days. There is but a Third now : one pull more, and then ! It seems to me, I will fly into some obscurest cranny of the world, and lie silent there for a twelvemonth. The mind is weary, the body is very sick ; a little black speck dances to and fro in the left eye (part of the retina protesting against the liver, and striking work). I cannot help it ; it must flutter and dance there, like a signal of distress, unanswered till I be done. My familiar friends tell me farther that the Book is all wrong, style, cramp, &c., &c. My friends, I answer, you are very right; but this also, Heaven be my witness, I cannot help. — In such sort do I live here ; all this I had to write you, if I wrote at all.”
The contrast between such a passage and the whole letter to his sister is but one of a multitude of instances that show the change in Carlyle’s spirit whenever he sat down to write to his home people.
II. CARLYLE TO MRS. HANNING, MANCHESTER.
5 CHEYNE ROW, CHELSEA, LONDON, 16th May, 1880.
MY DEAR JENNY, — Your letter has been here several weeks, a very welcome messenger to us, and I did not think at the time I should have been so long in answering it. But I have been drawn hither and thither by many things, of late ; besides, I judged that Robert and you were happy enough of yourselves for the present, and did not much need any foreign aid or interruption. I need not assure you, my dear little Jenny, of the interest I took in the great enterprise you had embarked on ; of my wishes and prayers that it might prove for the good of both. On the whole, I can say that, to my judgment, it looks all very fair and well. You know I have all along regarded Hanning as an uncommonly brisk, glegg little fellow since the first time I saw him (hardly longer than my leg, then), and prophesied handsome things of him in the world. It is very rare and very fortunate when two parties that have affected each other from childhood upwards get together in indissoluble partnership at last. May it prove well for you, as I think it will. You must take the good and the ill in faithful mutual help, and, whoever or whatever fail you, never fail one another. I have no doubt Robert will shift his way with all dexterity and prudence thro’ that Cotton Babylon, looking sharp about him ; knowing always, too, that “ honesty is the best policy ” for all manner of men. Do thou faithfully second him, my bairn : that will be the best of lots for thee.
I think it possible that now and then, especially when you are left alone, the look of so many foreign things may seem dispiriting to you, and the huge smoke and stour of that tumultuous Manchester (which is not unlike the uglier parts of London) produce quite other than a pleasant impression. But take courage, my woman, “ you will use, you will use,” and get hefted to the place, as all creatures do. There are many good people in that vast weavingshop, many good things among the innumerable bad. Keep snug within your own doors, keep your own hearth snug ; by and by you will see what is worth venturing out for. Have nothing to do with the foolish, with the vain and illconducted. Attach yourself to the wellliving and sensible, to every one from whom you find there is real benefit derivable. Thus, by degrees a desirable little circle will form itself around you ; you will feel that Manchester is a home, as all places under the heavenly sun here may become for one.
In a newspaper you would notice that the Doctor was come. Till this day, almost, there was little else to be said about him than that he was here and well. He has been speculating and enquiring as to what he should do, and now has determined that London practice will not do for the present; that he should go back with his Lady and try again to get practice there. He is gone out this moment to make a bargain to that effect. They are to set out for Rome again on the first of September ; from that till the first of March the Doctor is Lady Clare’s doctor, but lives in his own lodging at Rome ; after that he is free to do whatsoever he will: to stay there, if they seem inviting; to return home, if otherwise. I believe, myself, that he has decided wisely. Till September, then, we have him amongst us. He talks of being “ off in a week or two ” for Scotland ; he charged me to say that he would see Manchester, and you, either as he went or as he returned. It is not much out of the way, if one go by Carlisle (or rather, I suppose, it is directly in the way), or even if one go by Liverpool, but I rather think he will make for Newcastle this time ; to which place we have a steamboat direct. This is a good season for steamboats, and a bad one for coaches ; for with latter, indeed, what good season is there ? Nothing in the world is frightfuller to me of the travelling rout, than a coach on a long journey. It is easier by half to walk it with peas (at least boiled peas) in your shoes, were not the time so much shorter. The Doctor looks very well and sonsy ; he seems in good health and well to live ; the only change is that his head is getting a shade of grey (quite ahead of mine, though I am six years older), which does not mis-seem him, but looks very well.
We had a long speculation about going to Scotland, too, but I doubt we must renounce it. This summer I have finished my second volume, but there is still the third to do, and I must have such a tussle with it! All summer I will struggle and wrestle, but then about the time of the gathering in of sheaves I too shall be gathering in. Jane has gone out to “ buy a cotton gown,” for the weather is, at last, beautiful and warm. Before going she bade me send you both her best wishes and regards, prayers for a happy pilgrimage together. She has been but poorly for a good while (indeed, all the world is sick with these east winds and perpetual changes), but will probably be better now.
Jack and I, too, have both had our colds. Then Anne Cook fell sick, almost dangerously sick for the time ; but Jack was there and gave abundant medical help ; so the poor creature is on her feet again, and a great trouble of confusion is rolled out of doors thereby.
I am writing to our Mother this day. I have heard nothing from that quarter since the letter that informed me the poor little child was dead. Jean wrote part of it herself, and seemed in a very composed state, keeping her natural sorrow courageously down. Our Mother, I believe, continues there till Jean be ill again, and we hope happily well. Whether there be a frank procurable to-day I know not, but I will try. At worst I will not wait, lest you grow impatient again and get short. If you knew what a fizz I am kept in with one thing and another! Write to me when you have time to fill a sheet, — news, descriptions of how you get on, what you suffer and enjoy, what you do : these are the best. I will answer. Send an old newspaper from time to time, with two strokes on it, if you are well. Promise, however, to write instantly if you are ill. Then shall we know to keep ourselves in peace.
Farewell, dear little Sister. Give our love to our new Brother. Tell him to walk wisely and be a credit to your choice. God be with you both.
In Carlyle’s journal for June 1 occur these words : —
“ An eternity of life were not endurable to any mortal. To me the thought of it were madness even for one day. Oh! I am far astray, wandering, lost, 'dyeing the thirsty desert with my blood in every footprint.’ Perhaps God and His providence will be better to me than I hope. Peace, peace ! words are idler than idle,
“I have seen Wordsworth again. I have seen Landor, Americans, Frenchman-Cavaignac the Republican. Be no word written of them. Bubble bubble, toil and trouble. I find emptiness and chagrin, look for nothing else, and on the whole can reverence no existing man, and shall do well to pity all, myself first, — or rather, last. To work, therefore. That will still me a little, if aught will.”
Presently the household purse became so shrunken that the Revolution had to be dropped for two weeks, while Carlyle wrote the article on Mirabeau. This — printed first in Mill’s Review, and afterward in the Miscellanies — brought in about fifty pounds. Mrs. Carlyle, meanwhile, became so ill that it was arranged for her to go home to her mother. The voyage part of the plan, — by steamer from Liverpool to Annan, — which had been merely for economy, was not carried out. Mrs. Carlyle’s Liverpool uncle, John Welsh, paid her fare in the coach to Dumfries, and gave her a handsome shawl as a present for her birthday, the 14th of July.
III. CARLYLE TO MRS. HANNING, MANCHESTER.
CHELSEA, 8th July, Friday, 1836.
DEAR JENNY, — I write you a few words in the greatest haste, with a worthy Mr. Gibson even talking to me all the while ; but I must write, for there is not a post to lose, and I think the news will not be unwelcome to you.
Jane is getting ill again in this fiercely hot weather, and I have persuaded her to go home for a month to her mother. She is going by Manchester, and you. Off some time to-morrow (Saturday), and will be in your town, we calculate, on Sunday, and hopes to sleep in your house that night. This is the news. Now we know not as yet by what coach she will come, or at what hour and what Inn she will arrive, but this Mr. Gibson, who has undertaken to go out and search over the city for the suitablest vehicle, and to engage a seat in that for her, will take this letter in his pocket. He, having engaged the seat, will mark the name of it on the outside (where see). I judge farther that this letter will reach you on Saturday evening or next morning soon, so that there will be time. The rest you will know how to do without telling. I think Robert, if he be not altered from what he was, will succeed in meeting the tired wayfarer as she steps out, which will be a great comfort to her. She calculates on being at full liberty to sit silent with you, or to sit talking, to lie down on the bed, to do whatsoever she likes best to do, and to be in all senses at home as in her own home. There are few houses in England that could do as much for her. I think she would like best to be — “ well let alone.”
Next day, or when once right rested, Robert will conduct, her to the Liverpool Railway, and give her his “ Luck by the road ; ” after which she has but a little whirl, a little sail, — by the force of steam both ways, — and is at Templand or Annan. She will tell you all our news and get all yours, so I need not add another word. Did you get a frank that I sent you some months ago ? Did you ever send even a newspaper since ? Jane has half a thought that she may find the Doctor and our mother with you. All good wishes to your Goodman.
Yours, my dear Jenny, affectionately, T. CARLYLE.
IV. TO MRS. HANNING, MANCHESTER. FROM HER MOTHER, IN SCOTSBRIG.
November 3, 1836.
DEAR JENNY, — I have long had a mind to write you, but have put off, as you see, till now, and though I have nothing worth while to say but to tell you of my welfare, which I know you are still glad to hear. I have been very well since you left me, though I have taken no medicine of any kind. You will be ready to say, “ What have you been doing all this time ? ” I have been very throng in my own way. I have spun a little web of droget and done many odd things.
We have got another fine little boy here last Monday morning. Isabella is doing well.
They have had a long and sore fight with the harvest. It is nearly finished. It is a good crop, and upon the whole no great damage is done. We had a bitter snow and frost last week; it is gone again, however, but the weather is still coarse, with good days among. I had a long letter from London about the time I got yours with the socks, which are very comfortable indeed. I have them on at this moment, and my feet are as warm as pie. Many thanks to the giver. The iron is likewise an excellent one, a perfect conceit. Many, many thanks.
I was sorry to hear of your lassie turning out so badly. She had too much confidence. One should trust them no farther than they see. Old James of the hill is just come up for some beasts of Alick’s. He talks of taking them over the water to sell them soon. So you will perhaps have a visit of him soon.
You must not be long in writing to me, my good bairn, and tell me how you are coming on. Are you anything healthy now ? I intend visiting you, if I be well. Afterward it will be the next year before I think of coming. They were all well at London when I got their letter. John was at Geneva. I long to hear from him, and to know where he is now. I am expecting word daily. The rest are all well, for aught I know ; but Jamie is at Annan to-day, and he will hear of them all, as Alick was at Dumfries yesterday.
Your folk are all well. I saw William Hanning last week at the market with John. He told me he had sent away a letter that day, I think, to you. I forgot to tell you how Tom is getting on with his book. He intends going to press about New Year’s Day. It will be a fine time for him. May we all go on in the strength of God, the Lord, making mention of His righteousness, even of His only, trusting in Him for all we need for time and for eternity. I had done, but have just got a letter from the good Doctor, wrote about a fortnight since. If he is well, he is near Rome by this time.
Write, for I can write none. Send me a long letter. No more.
From your own mother,
M. A. CARLYLE.
They are all well at Annan and Dumfries.
Friday. I believe Alick goes off for Liverpool to-day. Send me word when to come over, and write soon.
By the end of October, 1836, Carlyle was already wondering what he should do after finishing The French Revolution, and wrote to his brother John : “ Here, with only literature for shelter, there is, I think, no continuance. Better to take a stick in your hand, and roam the earth Teufelsdröckhish; you will get at least a stomach to eat bread, — even that denied me here.” On the evening of the 12th of January, 1837, the book was finished which raised Carlyle from obscurity — so far as the public was concerned — to an undisputed place among great writers. Though popularity did not come for many a year, fame attended him from this point onward. The French Revolution was not published, however, until June; and in the interim Carlyle’s circumstances looked little more promising than before. A week after he had finished the last sentence, and handed the manuscript to his wife with a since famous and often-quoted speech, he found time and spirits to send prescriptions of cheerfulness to Mrs. Hanning. The “ two strokes” of a pen on a newspaper signified to the Carlyle who received the paper that all was well with the Carlyle who sent it.
V. CARLYLE TO MRS. HANNING, MANCHESTER.
5 CHEYSE Row, CHELSEA, LONDON,
19th Jan’y, 1837.
MY DEAR JENNY, — It is a long time since I heard directly of you at any length, or since you heard of me. Today, tho’ I have not the best disposition or leisure, I will send you a line : there are no franks going, but the post is always going, and you will think a shilling might he worse spent.
We are very sorry, and not without our anxieties, at the short notice Robert sent us on the Newspaper ; however, the next week brought confirmation on the favourable side, and I persuade myself to hope that all is getting round again to the right state. Your health is evidently not strong; but you are growing in years, and have naturally a sound constitution; you must learn to take care and precautions, especially in the life you are now entered upon, in that huge den of reek and Cotton-fuz, when one cannot go on as in the free atmosphere of the Country. Exereise, especially exercise out of doors when it is convenient, is the best of all appliances.
Do not sit motionless within doors, if there is a sun shining without, and you are able to stir. Particularly endeavour to keep a good heart, and avoid all moping and musing, whatever takes away your cheerfulness. Sunshine in the inside of one is even more important than sunshine without.
I do not understand your way of life so well as to know whether the Goodman is generally at your hand ; in that case, you have both a duty to do, and society in the doing of it independently of others ; but, at all events, frank communication with one’s fellow-creatures is a pleasure and a medicine which no life should be without. Be not solitary, be not idle ! That is a precept of old standing. Doing one’s duties (and all creatures have their solemn duties to do), living soberly, meekly, “ walking humbly before God,” one has cause to hope that it will be well with him, that he shall see good in the world. Write me a letter, full of all your concerns and considerations, when you can muster disposition. I shall always be right glad of such a message. In fine, I hope the spring weather will come and set us all up a little.
Before going farther, let me mention here that a Newspaper came to me last Monday, charged nineteen shillings and some pence ! I, of course, refused it. I got a sight of it, but could not ascertain accurately from whom it was. Either Alick or your Robert, I thought, but the Post people had stamped it, and sealed it, and smeared it all over, and marked it “Written on,” so that I could make little of it. The cover, I noticed, was in writing paper scored with blue lines : it strikes me it may have been the Manchester paper, after all, and no writing in it but the copper-plate on a piece of one of Robert’s account papers. At all events, when any more Newspapers come, the law is that the cover be of vacant blank paper; likewise we will cease writing or marking except two strokes on the cover, lest we get into trouble by it. I refused this nineteen shillings fellow; and they will be able to make no more of it, but it will make them more watchful in future. I mean to write into Annandale to the like effect.
The Doctor sends me word out of Rome that he wants a Dumfries Herald forwarded to him thither. I have not yet arranged that; but I am thinking of having this Herald (if the days answer) sent by Manchester, thro’ your hands. I think it would reach you on Saturday. You could look at it, and send it on, the same day, whereby no time at all would be lost. The two strokes would always be a satisfaction. We shall see how it answers. If any such Herald, then, come your way, you know what to do with it.
It is several weeks since I had any direct tidings out of Scotland, except what James Aitken’s address of the Courier gives me: it had the sign of well-being on it last week. I am to write thither shortly, having a letter of the Doctor’s lying here, as I have hinted. The Doctor says he had written a few days before to our Mother, which has made me less anxious about speed with this to her. He is well and doing tolerably well, — getting what Practice in Rome a beginner can expect. The Cholera was about gone from Naples, and the panic of it from Rome, so that more English were coming in, and he hoped to do still better. You can send this news into the Scotch side when you have opportunity.
Ail people here have got a thing they call Influenza, a dirty, feverish kind of cold ; very miserable, and so general as was hardly ever seen. Printing-offices, Manufactories, Tailor-shops, and such like are struck silent, every second man lying sniftering in his respective place of abode. The same seems to be the rule in the North, too. I suppose the miserable temperate of climate may be the cause. Worse weather never fell from the Lift, to my judgment, than we have here. Reek, mist, cold, wet; the day before yesterday there was one of our completest London fogs, — a thing of which I suppose you even at Manchester can form no kind of notion. For we are exactly ten times as big as you are, and parts of us are hardly less reeky and dirty ; farther, we lie flat, on the edge of a broad river : and now suppose there were a mist, black enough, and such that no smoke or emanation could rise from us, but fell again the instant it had got out of the chimneyhead ! People have to light candles at noon, coaches have torch-bearers running at the horses’ heads. It is like a sea of ink. I wonder the people do not all drop down dead in it, — since they are not fishes, of a particular sort. It is cause enough for Influenza. Poor Jane, who misses nothing, has caught fast hold of this Sunday last, and has really been miserably ill. She gets better these last two days, but is weak as water ; indeed, the headache at one time was quite wretched. She has been, on the whole, stronger since you saw her, but is not at all strong. As for myself, I have felt these wretched fogs penetrating into me, with a clear design to produce cough; but I have set my face against it and said No. This really does a great deal, and has served me hitherto. I hope to escape the Influenza ; they say it is abating.
The Book is done, about a week ago : this is my best news. I have got the first printed sheet, since I sat down to write this. We shall go on swiftly, it is to be hoped, and have it finished and forth into the world, say, before the month of March end. I care little what becomes of it then; it has been a sore Book to me. There are two things I was printing lately, which I would send to you, but there is no conveyance. I fear you would do little good with them, at any rate; not five shillings’ worth of good, which they would cost you. Besides, if Robert or you want to see them, you can let him go to a Circulating Library and ask for the last Number of the London and Westminster Review. In it he will find a thing called Memoirs of Mirabeau: that thing is mine. The other thing is in Fraser’s Magazine, — half of it; the other half will be in the February Number : it is called Diamond Necklace.
This latter was written at Craigenputtock a good while ago. I see your Manchester Editor feels himself aggrieved by it, worthy man, but hints that there may be some mistake on his part; which I do very seriously assure him is my opinion, too. Other Editors, it would seem, sing to the same tune.
After this Book is printed, it remains uncertain what I shall do next. One thing I am firmly enough resolved on : not to spend the summer here. I will have myself rested, and see the fields green and the sky blue yet one year, follow what may. Many things call me towards Scotland; but nothing can yet be determined upon. If I go Northward, Manchester is a likely enough step for me; nay, perhaps the Doctor may be home from Rome, and we shall both be there! Nothing is yet fixed ; we will hope all this.
And now, my dear Sister, I must bid thee good day. Salute Robert from me with all manner of good wishes. I have known him as a “ fell fellow ” since he was hardly longer than my leg. Tell him to be diligent in business, and also (for that is another indispensable thing) fervent in spirit, struggling to serve God. Make thou a good wife to him, helping him in all right things by counsel and act. Good be with you both ! Jane sends you all good wishes from her sick bed, and “ was grieved to hear of what had happened you.” She will be better in a day or two.
Your affectionate Brother,
The next letter, “ a holy and a cheerful note ” from Margaret Carlyle to her daughter, falls of necessity between 1836 and 1840, the year of Mrs. Hanning’s going to Manchester and that of her leaving it. The statement that “ Tom . . . has to begin to lecture the first of May, and has no time to prepare,” points to 1837 ; for all the following courses Carlyle had time to make ready. This first series, with German Literature for subject, was suddenly arranged by a number of Carlyle’s friends, — Miss Martineau zealous among them, — in the fear that, unless things brightened for him, he would be forced to leave London, " and perhaps England.” The lectures were a great success ; Carlyle spoke, instead of reading, to “ an audience of Marchionesses, Ambassadors, ah me! and what not; ” and the resulting sum of one hundred and thirty - five pounds, with the promise of another course for the next season, settled the household gods more firmly on their pedestals. In the words of Mrs. Carlyle, “ Nothing that he has ever tried seems to me to have carried such conviction to the public heart that he is a real man of genius, and worth being kept alive at a moderate rate.”
VI. TO MRS. HANNLNG, MANCHESTER, FROM HER MOTHER.
SCOTSBRIG, April 9th .
DEAR JENNY,— I have nothing worth writing at this time. We are all in our usual health. I have had little Grace with me these three weeks. Now I have to go to Dumfries this week to put some money in the bank for John, your brother. It is at Dumfries by this time. I told Mary to bid you write me soon and tell me how you are coming on. If you have not written, write to Dumfries. Do you know that Jane has been very badly ? She is rather better. Thank God, her mother is there with them. She took a coach and went straight for London. Tom is in a great hubble at this time: you will know he has to begin to lecture the first of May, and has no time to prepare. May God be with him and all of us, and as our day is so may our strength be, and may He prepare us for whatever He see meet to come in our way, that it may be for His glory and our good in the end. Our time is short at longest: may we have grace given us to improve it.
I had no thought of writing at this time, but Fanny Caruthers called and told me she was going to Manchester. She is much altered : I did not know her. Now, Jenny, I intend to see you this summer; I cannot say when, but if health permit I will come. If I am long in coming, I can stay the longer: it depends on Tom when he comes home. It will be June at the soonest before he can get away. I had a letter from him shortly which troubled me not a little, telling of Jane’s illness. She is rather better, but still confined to her bed at last accounts, which was about a week ago. I had a letter of John: he was well then. Write soon and tell me how you keep your health, now this cold weather is come, and how is Robert. Thank him in my name for nursing you so well when you were poorly. I hope you are stout now. Take good care of yourself and be well when I come over. I long to see you both. I will add no more, but am still
Your loving mother,
MARGARET A. CARLYLE.
God be with us all, and bless us, and do us good.
Clap your thumbs on mistakes.
On the 7th of June Carlyle wrote to Sterling, “ I cannot say a word to you of the book or of the lectures, except that by the unspeakable blessing of Heaven they are finished.” “ A few days after the date of this letter,” says Froude, “ Carlyle fled to Scotland, fairly broken down.” That he lingered a fortnight longer in Chelsea, however, the following letter is witness.
VII. CARLYLE TO MIS. HANNING, MANCHESTER.
5 CHEYNE Row, CHELSEA, LONDON, 20th June, 1837.
MY DEAR JENNY, — I write to-day with one of the worst of pens and in the extreme hurry of packing, to say that I am just coming off for Annandale, and shall take Lancashire in ray way. I think of taking the steamboat to-morrow morning for Hull. After that, I believe we go by Leeds and then to Manchester, where I hope to find you and your Goodman well. The times and the distances after getting to Hull, as we hope on Thursday, are unknown to me. Most probably, I should think, it will be on Saturday that I get to you, but it may be the day after, it may be the day before, for all is yet uncertain ; nay, there is a certain Dr. Hunter in Leeds, a cousin of Jane’s, with whom I may (though that is not very likely) loiter an hour or two. We shall see. We shall hope to meet all in order some how or other at last.
Jane is to stay here till I come back, her mother keeping her company. Jane, as you perhaps know, has been very ill. She has now grown much stronger again, but still not strong enough. Her mother hastily joined us when things were at the worst in the month of April, and will not quit us till we get together again.
I am not very eminently well at present, yet neither is anything special gone wrong with me. I want rest, and mean to have that now at Scotsbrig. I have got my book completely done. I gave a course of lectures too, &c., &c., and have “got all by” for the present. I seem to myself to require a little while of repose as the one thing needful.
A newspaper came the other day from the Doctor, indicating that he was well. He is not in Rome through the Summer, but in a place called Albano, not far from Rome. He seemed to consider it as not unlikely that he might be here in September again. He had succeeded pretty well at Rome as a Practitioner.
Last time I heard from Annandale our Mother and all the rest were well. It is not very long since, — some three weeks or little more. They also reported well of you at Manchester.
Give my compliments to Robert. Say I mean to ask his assistance in buying a quantity of breeches, as I pass through that huge Weaving-shop of the World. I ought to get them there better than elsewhere.
Let us hope, therefore, that on Saturday, or some time near before or near after that day, I shall succeed in finding you at Bank Street and finding all right.
I have not a moment’s time more. Indeed, what more is there to be said at present with such a pen ?
I remain always, my dear sister, Your affectionate
James Carlyle was now with his mother, farming Scotsbrig for her. Alick did afterward go to America, and died there. “ John of Cockermouth ” was a half - brother. “ James Austin and Mary ” are Carlyle’s brother-in-law and sister.
VIII. CARLYLE TO MRS. HANNING, MANCHESTER.
SCOTSBRIG, 18th July, 1837.
MY DEAR JENNY, — According to promise, I set about writing you a word of Scotch news, now that I am fairly settled here and know how things are. The railway train whirled me away from you rapidly that evening. Next evening, about the same hour, we were getting out of Liverpool harbour, and on the following morning, between seven and eight o’clock, I had got my eye upon Alick waving to me from the end of the Jetty at Annan. It is almost three weeks now that I have been here and found all well, but it was only the day before yesterday that we got our first visit to Dumfries made out, and could rightly report about matters there. I fancied a newspaper with two strokes would communicate the substance of what was to be said in the interim.
There has been a good deal of discussion about Alick and his going to America. He himself seemed of mind to go, but not very strongly or hopefully set on it. Our Mother, again, was resolute against it, and made such a lamenting as was sufficient to dishearten one more inclined than he. So now I think it seems fixed so far as that he will not go. What he is to do here one does not so well see, but it will evidently be a great point gained for him that he give up thinking about departure, and direct his whole industry to ascertaining how he can manage here where he is. Men of far less wit than he do contrive to manage, when once they have set their heart on it. Jamie is quite ready to go to Puttock and give up Scotsbrig to him, but I still rather think there will nothing come of that; nay, some think Alick himself does not at bottom wish that, but is satisfied with finding Jamie so far ready to accommodate him and keep him at home. He seems very tranquil, cheerfuller than he was and altogether steady; likelier to have a little fair luck than he was a while ago. He must persist where he is. There is nothing that can prosper without perseverance. Perseverance will make many a thing turn out well that looked ill enough once. John of Cockermouth is gone off to America about a fortnight ago with all his family. I got him a letter from Burnswark to a brother of his at New York. I doubt not he will do well. Clow of Land has his property advertised for sale ; means to be off about the end of August, which also I reckon prudent. With two or three thousand pounds in his pocket and four or five strong sons at his back, a man may make a figure in America. James Austin and Mary were at one time talking of America, but they also have given it up.
We had a letter from the Doctor shortly after my arrival here. He is well, living at Albano, a summer residence some twenty miles from Rome. He speaks of it being possible, or probable, that he may get back to England in September, but it is not certain. He will be pretty sure to come by Manchester and you if he come Northward. The rest, as I have already hinted, are all well and following their usual course. Jamie and his wife and two sons go along very briskly. His crops look well. He had his Peat-stack up (and mother’s little one beside it) and his hay mown, though the late rains and thunder have retarded that a little. The country never looked beautifuller in my remembrance, green and leafy; the air is fresh, and all things smiling and rejoicing and growing. Austin is busy enough now with work. He had a bad time of it in spring, when horse provender was so dear. The children are well, — even the eldest looks better than I expected, — and Mary, their mother, seems hearty and thrifty. I mentioned that we had been at Dumfries. Alick took up our Mother and me on Friday last in a rough “ Dandycart” of Mrs. Scott’s with a beast of Jamie’s. One of the first questions my Mother asked of Jean was, “ Hast thou had any word from Jenny ? ” To which the answer was “No.” Jean’s child is running about quite brisk, though a little thinner than it once was; from teeth, I suppose. James Aitken has plenty of work, three or four journeymen. In short, they seem doing well. Finally, Jamie (Maister Cairlill) authorizes me to report that he this day met with a brother of thy Robert’s, who said that the Peat-knowes too were all well. The day after my arrival here I fell in with William Hanning, the father, on Middlebie Brae, measuring some Dykes, I think, with a son of Pottsfowns. He looked as well as I have seen him do. The same man as ever, though he must be much older than he once was. The tea parcel was forwarded to him, or sent for, by my desire, that same night.
Our good Mother here is quite well in health ; indeed, as well every way as one could expect, though doubtless she is a little lonelier now than when you were with her. She complains of nothing, but does her endeavour to make the best of all things. She wishes you “ to write very soon and tell her how the world is serving you.” She would have sent a word or two to that effect in her own hand, she says, but “having a good clerk ” (me, namely) “ she does not need.” I am to confirm her promise of coming with me when I return southward, and staying till you tire of her. There was word from Jane on Sunday gone a week. She wrote in haste, but at great length, and seemed very cheerful. She will not come hither this time, I think. Her mother is to return home about the end of this month. Jane appears quite prepared to stay by herself. She has some friends yonder whom she is much with, and she rather likes the treat. Mrs. Welsh expects Liverpool people with her to Templand, and can stay no longer.
I have ended my paper, dear Jenny, and given one of the meagrest outlines of our news. You will see, however, that nothing is going wrong with us ; that we are thinking of you and desirous to hear from you. Be a good bairn and a good wife, and help your Goodman faithfully in all honest things. He is a thrifty fellow with a good whole heart. There is no danger of him. Help one another. Be good to one another. God’s blessing with you both. All here salute you.
I am always
Your affectionate brother,
Meantime, while Jamie was building his peat-stack in “ the beautifullest weather ” that Carlyle had ever seen, Alick was setting up a shop in the village of Ecclefeclian, and The French Revolution was beginning to take the Englishreading world for its parish. The French verdict was for the most part adverse. Mérimdé, whether or not he agreed with the translators in describing Carlyle as le phénomène d’un protestant poétique, expressed a sincere desire to throw the writer out of the window. But Dickens carried the book about with him, Southey read it six times running, and Mill, approving his opposite, maintained that the much berated style was of high excellence. Carlyle, wishing to “ lie vacant,” neither read nor so much as saw many of the reviews, though he heard of most of them. One untactful friend sent him the opinion of a certain critical journal, with which he forthwith “ boiled his teakettle.” Much more than a pot-boiler was one enthusiastic review, although that function of his article was sadly important to the writer, for whom Vanity Fair and fame were still ten years ahead. Writes Carlyle to his brother : “ I understand there have been many reviews of a very mixed character. I got one in the Times last week. The writer is one Thackeray, a half-monstrous Cornish giant, kind of painter, Cambridge man, and Paris newspaper correspondent, who is now writing for his life in London. I have seen him at the Bullers’ and at Sterling’s. His article is rather like him, and I suppose calculated to do the book good.”
Brigadier, vous avez raison.”
Without regard to reviewers, and in spite of the cholera, the homely idyl goes melodiously on. “ Jean and her two Jamies ” are Carlyle’s sister, Mrs. Aitken, her husband and little son.
“Jamie of Scotsbrig ” is, of course, Carlyle’s brother. Betty Smail’s short history may be found in Froude’s First Forty Years of Carlyle, vol. i. p. 119.
IX. CARLYLE TO MRS. HANNING, MANCHESTER.
28 Aug. 1807.
DEAR JENNY, — Your letter to Mary at Annan got this length on Saturday night. As you appear to be impatient for news from this quarter, not unreasonably, having had none for six weeks, I am appointed to write you a few lines without any loss of time whatever, — a thing I can easily enough do, being even idler to-day than common.
We were not so well pleased to hear of your fecklessness and pain in the stomach during the last fortnight, but we hope it is but something derived from the season and will not continue. There is very often a kind of “ British Cholera ” in this harvest time. It is even very frequent at present in this region, owing partly to the air (as they say), and chiefly, perhaps, to the new potatoes and other imperfectly ripened substances which people eat. Jamie, here, had a cast of it for two days just a week ago, rather sharp, but he is free now. Our Mother too was taken with it, — came home rather ill from Ecclefechan one day, — but by aid of Castor and some prime Brandy has got quite round again. You do not say that the disorder has got that length with you, but very probably it is something related to the same business. The only remedy is to be careful of what one eats, to take due moderate exercise in the open air, in case of extremity employing a little medicine. Cold, especially cold feet are very bad; but the great thing is to take care of one’s self, especially to take care what one eats. New potatoes are very unwholesome for some people.
We are now all well here, and with the slight exception mentioned above have been so ever since I wrote last. Alick brought us news of you. Alick’s news are the main ones I have now to send you. He quitted Annan on Monday last (this day gone a week), and has been in the Big house at Ecclefechan ever since. I suppose he explained to you and Robert the plan he had of setting up a shop there. He has gathered himself together, and is all alive after that same enterprise now. We had him and little Tom over here all yesterday.
Mother, Jamie, and I walked with them to Cleughbrae in the evening. To-day, as we understand, he has got masons and actually broken in upon the house to repair it and arrange it for that object; Hale Moffet and his retinue having been got out. It is in a sad state of wreck, the poor house, but Alick expects to put a new face on it with great despatch indeed ; and then, “ shop drawers ” and all the rest being provided, and James Aitken’s brush having given the last touch to it, he will unfold his wares and try the thing in the name of Hope. We all pray heartily that it may prosper beyond his expectations. Ecclefechan is a sad Village : only last Friday night some blackguard broke 14 panes of the Meeting House windows. Fancy such an act of dastardly atrocity as that! But it lies in the centre of a tolerable country, too, and certain there is need of some good shop and honest Trader there.
I have seen Mary pretty frequently, the last time on Friday last. She is very well, and all her bairns are well. James has always some work, though seldom enough, and Mary is the brightest, thriftiest little creature that can be. They go on there as well as one could hope in these times. We had a letter from the Doctor, too: still in the same place, — Albano, near Rome ; still well; uncertain as to his future movements or engagements, though it must be settled some way before this date, if we knew how. He seemed to think it very unlikely that he would be here in the present autumn, the likeliest of all that he would try to return next spring. The Cholera was in that country, but had not got to them. We fancy they will not fail to fly out of the road of it, if it advance too near.
I was at Dumfries since I wrote: up to Templand, and then again at Dumfries on my return. Mrs. Welsh came home several weeks ago, and had at the time I was up, and has still, her Liverpool friends with her. The house was very crowded. I was not very well, and stayed only four and twenty hours or so, cutting out my way in spite of all entreaties. Jean and her two Jamies are very tolerably well: the elder Jamie a thrifty, effectual, busy man; the younger as yet altogether silent, staggering and tripping about, — one of the gleggest little elves I have seen. There is talk of her coming down to Annan this very week to have the benefit of the tide for sea bathing. Jamie of Scotsbrig, who goes up tomorrow to pay his rent, will bring us word.
The other morning, walking out, I met Robert’s father at the “ Lengland’s Nett,” coming down from Dairlaw Hills with a row of bog-hay carts he had been buying at Dairlaw Hills. He was hale and well to look at, and reported all well. I suppose he has been very busy of late; seldom were so many roups seen in one season ; all the farmers selling off, none of them having money for their rent day ; Land farm, and now all the stock, crop, and household furniture have been sold off. Poor Clow goes off for America on Wednesday morning by the Liverpool steamer. People are all sorry. The Burnfoot Irvings, or Sandy Cowie for them, have bought his land : £4000.
Betty Smail, bound for Ecclefechan, has been waiting this half hour till I should be done ; I did not know of her when I began. The needfullest thing, therefore, that I can do is to tell you about our coming. It will be soon, but is still uncertain when. I should say in about a fortnight, — nay, in a day or so less; but it depends somewhat on a letter we look for from Jane which has not yet come to hand. Jane, you must know, after her mother’s departure went into the country with the Sterlings, friends of hers. I wish her to stay there while she likes, and would get home about the same time as she; a month was the time she first spoke of, and that I have little doubt will suffice, — so my guess is as above given. A newspaper with one stroke on it will come to you (barring mistakes) two days before you are to look for us. This shall be a token, and we need not write any more. Alick has some talk of coming with us to get his goods ready then, but I think he will hardly be ready. The butter and another firkin of butter has been talked of and will be forthcoming, but it seems dubious whether any of it will get with us. It can come before or after, I believe safe and with little expense. Mother will bring “ some pounds of it” in her box. I shall perhaps be obliged to go back by Liverpool, and must not calculate to stay more with you than a day. My Mother sends you both her love (she is smoking here) ; she “ will tell you all her news ” when we come. Compliments and good wishes to Robert from all of us. We are glad to hear his trade is better. A glegg fellow like him will get through worse troubles than this. God keep you, my dear little Jenny.
Your affectionate Brother,
X. TO MRS. HANNING, MANCHESTER, FROM HER MOTHER.
[SCOTSBRIG] January 11th [183S].
DEAR CHILDREN, — I received your letter this day about mid-day. Then Alick and his family came here, so we talked on till bedtime; and now they are gone to bed. I am sorry to hear that Jenny is poorly. I intend to see you very soon ; I cannot say pointedly which day yet. I am going down to Annan with Alick, and will fix. It shall not be long, God willing. I have some thoughts of taking the steamer. Keep up your heart, Jenny, and be well when I come. Trust in God, casting all your cares on Him. He is a kind father to all them that put their trust in Him. I will say no more to-night ; it is late. Do you think the railway is passable ?
I had not finished this scrawl when I received your last letter, of which I was very glad. It is all well, God’s will be done. I was coming by the steamer on Thursday or Friday. Now I will let the storm blow by. Now, Jenny, be very careful of yourself; take care of cold, and likewise what you eat. May God’s blessing rest on us all. May He make us thankful for all His ways of dealing with us. Write soon. You may direct to Annan, as I will be there some time. Could you let Tom know that I am there, also, and that I am well? Now, bairns, write soon. You see I cannot write, though nobody would take greater pleasure in it.
Your own mother,
MARGARET A. C.
P. S. My tooth is better, though not very sound yet. I forgot to thank you very kindly for the things you sent me.
In the two ensuing years Carlyle gave two more courses of lectures, both notably successful. Among many other new acquaintances was Mr. Baring, afterward Lord Ashburton, who, with his two wives, was to figure so largely in the lives of Carlyle and his wife. Sartor Resartus was published in England, and republished in the United States. Chartism was written and printed. Other events of the same biennium were Mrs. Carlyle’s “ only Soirée,” the appearance of Count d’Orsay in Cheyne Row, and Mr. Marshall’s gift to Carlyle of a mare, — “ Citoyenne ” to be called.
Charles Townsend Copeland.