October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 31 October 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18451031-TC-MAC-01; CL 20: 37-39


Chelsea, 31 Octr, 1845—

My dear Mother,

You will take a short word from me rather than none at all, to tell you that we are all struggling along here without disaster; which indeed is all that is to be told. I write also to see if I can induce you to make use of one of those Letter-Covers which I left, and to send me a small line about yourself and how you are. Except one short line from Jamie to the Doctor, I have heard nothing at all since I left you.

There has been no rain, or almost none whatever since I left Scotsbrig; so that, I hope, tho' your weather can hardly have been so favourable, Jamie is now over with his harvest, and fast getting all secured under thack-and-rape.1 The Potatoe-business, as I learn from the Newspapers, proves very serious everywhere, in Ireland as much as anywhere; and over all Europe there is a rather deficient crop; besides which the present distracted railway speculation and general fever of trade is nearly certain to break down soon into deep confusion: so that one may fear a bad winter for the poor; a sad thing to look forward to! They are best off, I think, who have least to do with that brutal chase for money; which afflicts me wherever I go in this country. “Give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with food convenient for me!”2

Our freedom from rain has not hindered the November Fogs from coming in, somewhat before their time. The weather is not wholesome; many people have got cold in these late days. I advise you dear Mother to put on your winter clothing, and be cautious of going out except when the Sun is shining. In the morning and evening do not venture at all. This is the most critical time of all, I believe; these weeks while the change to winter is just in progress. I thought myself extremely well here, for a week after my return; and indeed was so, and hope again to be so,—much improved by my journey: but last Sabbath, paying no heed to these frost-fogs I caught a little tickling in my nose, which rapidly grew into a sniftering, and by the time next day came I had a regular ugly face-ache, and fair foundation for cold in all its forms; which required to be energetically dealt with, and resisted on the threshold. Next day accordingly I kept the house, strictly, and appealed to medicine and thin diet; and so on Wednesday morning I had got the victory again, and have been getting round, and growing nearer the old point ever since;—in fact reckon myself quite well again, except that I take a little care of going out at night &c. Jane has had a little whiff of cold too; but it is abating again. We are taught by these visitations to be upon our guard.— The Doctor is quite well, tho' I think he sits too much in the house; being very eager upon his Dante at present.

They are not to publish the Cromwell till “the middle of next month, ”— about a fort[night].3

It lies perfectly ready, but the Town is still very empty; besides they are getting ready a Portrait, the rudiments of which John and I went to see the other day, but did not very much like. I fear it will not turn out much of an ornament to the Book or a true likeness of Oliver; but we cannot help that. Nor does it very much matter.— For the rest, I am and have been nearly as idle as possible; merely reading Books, and doing other small etceteras.

There is an invitation to go down to the Grange (where I was the other year), for Jane and me both, “for a few days” (perhaps three); but I think it is not certain whether we can accept in such a state of the weather, etc. It will be within the next ten days if at all. We are very quiet here at home; hardly anybody yet coming about us: and indeed in general it is, the fewer the better, with us.

I cannot yet learn with the least distinctness whether John is for Scotsbrig or not; but I continue to think he will after all come down and plant himself there with his Dante for a while. I have fully expressed your wishes to him in regard to that; and certainly if he do not come it will not be for want of wish to be there.

Jenny, I suppose, is home again: all is grown quiet in the upstairs rooms! My dear good Mother, let us not be sad, let us rather be thankful,—and still hope in the Bounty which has long been so benignant to us. I will long remember your goodness to me at Scotsbrig on this occasion, and the sadness that is in it I will take as inevitable,—every joy has its sorrow here. … 4

If I think of any Carlisle Tobacco I will send word about it in good time; if I send no word, do not in the least delay about it.