August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 7 December 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18431207-TC-MAC-01; CL 17: 203-204


Chelsea, Thursday, 6 [7] decr, 1843—

My dear Mother,

We have a Letter from Jean this week, who reports a visit to you, and gives us a description of what you were about. We were very glad to look in upon you in that way. Jean describes you as very well when they came; but since then (tho' she tells us of your prohibition to mention it at all) there has been some ill turn of health; which we long greatly to hear of the removal of! I study, dear Mother, not to afflict myself with useless anxieties: but on the whole, it is much better that one know exactly how matters do stand; the very fact, no better and no worse than it is. Today there is a little Note from James Aitken, apprising us that the Books are come, that Jenny is with him: he has evidently heard nothing farther from Scotsbrig; so we will hope things may have got into their usual course again there. But Jamie or somebody may write us a scrap of intelligence surely?

As we heard that your old pills did not answer so well now, I got a new recipe from Jack, and took it to our Apothecary here, who is a punctual satisfactory person, and uses none but good medicines. He was directed to send you off a Box of two dozen this morning; they will arrive the night before this Note arrives; and this will serve to explain where they come from, which might otherwise be a little surprising! If they prove good, we will make the man take a Copy of the Recipe; and always when you want more, they can be sent without the slightest trouble, and reach you in four-and-twenty hours. If they do not answer, send word directly, and Jack will try another kind.

This is said to be a very unhealthy season here; for the last two months about two hundred more deaths in the week have occurred than is usual at this season: but I rather conjecture it is the result of the long continued hardship the Poor have been suffering; which now, after wearing out the constitution by hunger and distress of mind, begins to tell more visibly! Our weather is very mild, soft without any great quantity of rain; and not at all disagreeable. Jane's cold is gone again, and we are in our common way.

My Book goes on badly; yet I do think it goes on. In fact, it must go: bore away at it with continual industrious boring, day and night, and it will be obliged to go! I study however not to “split my gall”1 with it; but to “hasten slowly” as the old Romans said.2 When writing will not prosper with me at all, I fling it entirely by, and go and walk many a mile in the country. I have big thick shoes, my jacket is waterproof against slight rain; I take a stick in my hand, and walk with long strides! The farther I walk the abler I grow. In fact I am rather in better health, I think, than usual, if all things are considered.

Jack and I had a long walk, after Tailors3 &c for some three hours, in the moonlight streets, last night. Today it is damp; but I am for a sally again;—alas it is but a very poor morning-task I have done; but we cannot help it!——— Adieu, dear good Mother; for our sakes take care of yourself. My love to all. Your affectione

T. Carlyle