The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 16 June 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410616-TC-MAC-01; CL 13: 149-151


Chelsea, 16 june (Wednesday) 1841—

My dear Mother,

It seems very absurd that I do not send you a short line, value one penny, to assure you at least of our welfare here! I think every day I ought to do it; and then again it strikes me our summer plans ought to be matured first. Our summer plans, alas, do not yet indicate maturity: wherefore, today, I will wait no longer, but write as matters stand. Jack has just sent me down your little Note to him; a dear little Note: I will send you this salutation before going out.

Our speculations about a residence do not get on fast here; indeed I have hardly ever in my life been more at a loss to make up my mind. Jane, as you know, does not want to stir at all, but would willingly, were she alone concerned, stay here from January to December. She will of course go with me “to any place I like”; but the charge of the whole choice is thus left with me. I feel too as if it were not a choice for one year (which might very soon be managed), but perhaps a choice for many years; some new arrangement of my way of life, which must not be ventured upon rashly. I should regret greatly to quit London; and yet in it, my health is always a little worse, and my work has to go on with sore obstruction: What it were of all things wisest for me to do? This is a question! On the whole I can but repeat your prayer, “May we be guided to some true decision!” — At bottom too the chief grievance at present is that I am not yet fixed heartily to any work, and even do not like to fix on any till I have got some arrangement about a habitation. Why should I begin weaving, till my loom is fairly set up!

After much study, in many humours, I begin to see that the House at the Glen will not suit us. I dread, not. Its being the gift of anybody is a bad feature of it. And then the furniture;—one might launch out a considerable quantity of money and trouble of all kinds; and then not find it do!1 I wrote about a fortnight ago to Ben Nelson, asking about Jamie Ewart's furniture,2 what it really was &c; Ben has yet made no answer: but indeed I do not much think any answer of his would now decide us for the Glen. I do not want any grand house of that kind: ah no, a little cottage would serve for all I want!

Another entirely different scheme you have sometimes heard of is that of getting out into the neighbourhood of London there to reside all the year round, without the necessity to shift at all. Well; I went out one day into a place called Epping Forest,3 to look for houses with this view: I had a pleasant enough walk; but as for houses, found none, at all likely.— I have to go and see Brighton also which is on the coast, some sixty miles off. And then the Welshman,4 he still lies, poor fellow, as another resource. And indeed the weather hitherto has been so very cold, ever till yesterday, that there was no great haste about quitting London. In a few days now, however, I must and will decide, were it even unwisely.

Thus, dear Mother, have I explained our uncertainties. What a blessing that they are of no worse character; that we have some money at any rate, to go whither we like when any place grows insupportable!— Jane is well; I too am well, and hope to grow better.

Jack comes down to dine with us every Sabbath; he and Ogilvy, or sometimes he himself, will dash in at various other odd times thro' the week. The day before yesterday, they even had me up to dine with them. They are good people in their way; poor Ogilvy is himself a hapless interesting man. Jack seems to think him improving; they fly about in all directions, drive every evening in their carriage &c &c It all goes right enough, I think; and the only fault of the place, if that be a fault, is that there still is very little or at bottom almost nothing to do in it. Jack is, of course, a considerable comfort to me here.

Alas, here is a poor man, by name Thackeray, just come in from Paris; where his poor Wife is left, having fallen insane on his hands some six or eight months ago!5 I believe he is not well off for cash either, poor Thackeray (tho' born a rich man); he is very clever, with pen and pencil; an honest man, in no inconsiderable distress! He seems as if he had no better place, of all the great places he once knew, than our poor house to take shelter in!—Welcome the coming guest, especially him that is in misfortune! I must go down to poor Thakeray,6 and bid my Mother farewell. Does Alick forgive me that I have not written? Ah me, I will write to him, to Jenny, and to them all, if they give me time. My heart's love with every one of them. Jean says that you, dear Mother, are a little thinner, but not otherwise ailing. The Summer weather I hope will set you up again. Be good to yourself! The good Isabella does not let you want for news? Good be with you all ever!

Your affectionate son /