April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 13 January 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490113-TC-MAC-01; CL 23: 201-202


Chelsea, Saturday 3 o-'clock, 13 jany 1849—

My dear Mother,—These two or three days I am trying to write again according to tasks by the day; today I have already spent all my time, and cannot fulfil, except in name merely, the purpose I rose with in the morning, that of writing to you. But one word, it can go for a penny,—and surely it ought to be sent at that easy charge!

We are all pretty well; Jane herself, in spite of occasionally hard weather keeps afoot, and is at present rather hearty. I myself, keeping in great quietness, hardly speaking to anybody once a-day, am sombre enough, and full of internal meditation and confusions, but complain fully less of bodily health than is common with me. I scribble up here in the forenoons; run out for a walk till five o'clock; dine then (have been obliged to return to potatoes again, whether I would or not!),—then read all the evening till eleven o'clock, about which hour I often make another sally for a walk of four miles; after which a pipe, a little more reading, and so at last to bed. Many of our friends are out of Town at present; so that this way of life comes quite natural. I saw Jack, the night before last; took my night walk in company with him; he is very well and hearty.— Nota bene,1 my grand new Dressing-gown is lying safe in the drawer, all this while; I wear the old one still, and indeed old clothes generally, in this bad weather! Also I still abstain from supper; Jane still takes a breakfast-cup of porridge, poor thing; but I stick by my two meals and tea.

We have had hard frosty weather, very sharp indeed for two or three days; but it did not continue: we sink naturally into the old state of gentle mud again, with soft west winds, and almost continual sprinklings of Scotch-mist, in which predicament we now again are for the last two days. What becomes of you, dear Mother, in these rigorous blasts! I often think how severe they will be upon you. Happily we are within sight of spring now; tho' still with a good deal of rude weather to be looked for first.— Jane has discovered some astonishingly warm pairs of drawers,—fit apparel of women that “wear the breeches”;—I really think they must be very warm; and intend, so soon as the things can be got together, to send a pair of them to Scotsbrig for you. There is hope, you see!—

What Jean and James Aitken are about now we do not very clearly know; but hope they are still at Gill, as Jenny is still with you, till the Disease2 fairly quit Dumfries. It still goes on here; but to a very small extent, chiefly among the drinking dissipated classes; and nobody talks of it, or seems to mind it. In fact, Influenza first and last has taken ten times as many lives here as Cholera ever did.

We are very sorry to hear accounts of Jamie's cattle threatening to perish. Has he actually lost some of them by that murrain; or do they get better again, and only lose of their value? Tell us about it, more punctually, whoever writes next.— Poor Mrs Buller has taken a house, and is to continue here: she is nearly 3 miles from us, which cuts her much off from Jane, greatly to her (Mrs B.'s) regret: poor woman, you may fancy what a dreary life hers now is! Her own wretched health, chiefly occupying her, is perhaps almost a blessing.— Oh my dear good Mother, how gentle have the Providences been with us! Let us be thankful;—we are at least glad!— My blessings to one and all. Ever your affectionate T. Carlyle