January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 6 January 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430106-TC-MAC-01; CL 16: 5-6


Chelsea, Friday, 6 jany, 1843—

My dear Mother,

Jenny sent me a small welcome Note last week;1 and I have felt ever since as if I were doubly in your debt. I am terribly busy; and so many interruptions occur;—but surely I might contrive to find half an hour some day for scribbling half a word of news to my dear good Mother! Well; I decide on doing it today,—today when my whole day's task, by one foolish botheration and another, has gone to the winds; and it is now time for my going out without having got anything done! I will have it to say at least: I wrote a scrape of a pen to my Mother!—

Jane is taking some medicines of John's, and really finds some benefit, I think,—tho' she has to complain sadly that Jack will take no hold of her, but seems almost to forget both that she is a Patient and he a Doctor. He is indeed terribly loose; in great haste; for most part; and flies round everything, too like a bundle of loose thrums [threads],—not at all like a hard hammer, to hit it well!——— The good Doctor: we saw him yesterday, incidentally here, his Patient being out on some excursion;2 so that Jack could get down to us. He and I walked up far into the Town together; and had talk enough, amid the noisy glarry [muddy] streets: he seems as well as I have seen him for many years; a great comfort to us to see here once a week!

My own health keeps good; better than it used to do. I am fast getting ready something for publication too,—tho' it is not Cromwell yet; it is something more immediately applicable to the times in hand.3 I do hope you will see it soon,—tho' it is a terrible business getting a thing wriggled out of the confusions it stands amid, and made ready for presenting to mankind! It is like building a dry brick-house out of a quagmire of clay and glar!— As Tom Garthwaite said of his strained leg, “we must not stop for strained legs, we will work out the strean [strain].”4 Tom did “work out the strean”: how much more ought I!

We have had hardly any winter here yet; hard[ly]5 a half-dozen days of frost, and never more than two at a time; the weather often warm as in the fine days of Spring. I doubt, it is no good sign of a season; perhaps there will be a cold enough summer to make up for this. However, we ought to be glad of good weather in the meanwhile, and not anticipate evil too much.— The distress of the Poor, I apprehend, is less here at present than in almost any other large Town: yet you cannot walk along the streets without seeing frightful symptoms of it. I declare I begin to feel as if I should not hold my peace any longer; as if I should perhaps open my mouth, in a way that some of them are not expecting! We shall see, if this Book were once done.

Poor Mrs Sterling continues very weak; not immediately in danger, but Jane thinks her radically all wrong. We had a notice too yesterday that John Sterling the son, far away off at Falmouth, had been straining himself with some heavy lift, and had burst a bloodvessel in his lungs, which had as near as possible killed him! He is getting slowly better, we now understand; but is as weak as water.

Poor Isabella does not improve,—nor will she, till she have been worse, I suppose.6 It is a great comfort to me to think of Jenny being with you. She lights the fire; that is right. Keep yourself snug, my dear Mother; out of the raw winter; you have already fronted it long and bravely.——— I hear no news from Jean at Dumfries; none from Alick or anybody.7 Jamie has a little Note here. Somebody will write to me by and by. My heart's-blessing with you all, writing or not writing. Adieu dear Mother. A joiner is in my room working for the last half hour! Your affectionate

T. Carlyle