August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 9 November 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18431109-TC-MAC-01; CL 17: 167-168


Chelsea, 9 Novr, 1843 (Thursday)

My dear good Mother,

You will put up with a very small unsatisfactory Letter, instead of a long and pleasant one which I did mean to write you; I can do no more today, and alas that is little enough! But a word should verily, and shall verily go, to apprise you merely that we are all well, and ask if you are all well.

My little upper room far out of the noise of pianos was finished near a fortnight ago; and this is the second week I have wrote in it. Alas, no “room” will serve my turn entirely at present! I cannot get into the subject at all; and do but keep puddle-puddling, writing things and then burning them,—and am in short very uncomfortable indeed! This is the reason I write so short to you: I do not like to speak or write to any one at all in this vile state of fret, and pitiful frustration and inability to get on at all, that I am now in.——— But indeed it [is]1 but the old story. I am always like a spavined horse, a poor old hack that does nothing but hobble and tevel [act confusedly], never stirring from the spot, till its old joints have got heated. I must just tevel away here, and you must all have patience with me; by and by I shall get under way, and then my dear Mother shall hear better news of me.

My little room here is such a curiosity as you have seldom seen; a place projecting off from my bedroom, about 7 or 8 feet square, papered on the walls, with a window in it which looks out upon trim gardens, trees and houses at a distance,—and now with a fireplace, a shelf of books, my writing-table and a chair: here I sit, lifted above the noise of the world, peremptory to let no mortal enter upon my privacy here; and really I begin to like it. You never saw such a fireplace in your life; a little register grate let into the wall, as neat as a snuff-box, and really not much bigger than a porridge bowl; but it takes up its smoke like a little hero, and keeps the place as warm as a pie,—so warm that I oftenest sit with the door of it open, and communicate with the bedroom too. Could I but get my work to go forward! But at present it is like founding houses on bottomless quagmires; every stone when I have lugged it to the place is swallowed in unknown depths of gludder [mire].— Patience! Courage!

Jack was here last night for a little while; well and hearty. The reason why Alick does not write I take to be that he has got no fixed place or scheme yet; that he is somewhat as I now am, and feels quite reluctant to write. Jean sent a Letter for him, which I addressed, with a word or two of my own, and forwarded by the last Steamer.

You are to tell Jamie that better meal was never made; nor better ham,—we wish we had a constant allowance of the latter! Isabella's butter too cannot be beaten:—in short all is right and successful there; but I will write myself by and by.——— Jane had a stiff neck last week; but has shaken it off again, and is out at present: a clear sharp day (after muddy rains), it looks like the beginning of frost.

Dear Mother, will you let us know how you really are. I never dare believe that you are well. I also want to know so many other particulars! Tell me for one thing if you have got your rents paid, if you have MALL IN SHAFT stievely [everything firmly in working order]! Jane will send you “a word,” many a word! Adieu dear good Mother. May God's blessing be ever on you all. Your affectionate

T. Carlyle