The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 26 October 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18501026-TC-MAC-01; CL 25: 265-267


Chelsea, 26 Octr, 1850

My dear Mother,—I have now been at home a whole week, yesternight I got the Doctor's Letter telling me about Scotsbrig and you:—today, in spite of my repugnance to writing, I surely ought to send you a word, and will! I have meant to do it almost every day this week; but my indolent unfitness for any kind of exertion has hindered me; my sole wish has been and is “to go dawnering about, and altogether hold my tongue.”

Of The Grange I did not much benefit or hurt; the hours there are eminently unwholesome to me (dinner between 7 and 8 &c); otherwise I should have done very well: I rode daily, for most part quite alone, a beautiful swift horse, for two or sometimes three hours, among thick woody avenues or far and wide over the country, a sad yet pleasant occupation; which was the main event each day. Our company went and came, never three days the same, and was at no time very interesting to me: this day week, we two with a young lady, Miss Farrar whom John knows, were the last of the party and had been appointed to go: go two of us did accordingly; but on the morning in question Lady Ashburton had fallen unwell and requested Jane to stay behind for a little, which accordingly she did, and I had to escort Miss Farrar without her; and it was Tuesday afternoon before Jane joined me: a welcome sight, the incompetent pluistering servant maids not being at all fit for my management! We have now got that all happily settled, I do hope; and a really good, serviceable and cheerful lass, who understands her work, has taken possession of the gang,—long may she keep it; for these changes are quite hateful to me!1 In the meanwhile, however, I had taken a dirty little feverish cold, which has not yet entirely departed but keeps me dispirited and uncomfortable; and poor Jane, the next day after her arrival, was nailed down with one of the worst headaches I have seen her have for six months past. That too, however, is now over; and my cold also is evidently going; and so, if I can steadily sit quiet, we shall get thro' into tolerably clear water again before long. Indeed the water, I ought to say, is already “clear,” such a comfort is it to have people with hands about one in the house, and no charge except of one's own discontented self, which is now my case— It appears to be settled that I am to visit Paris, along with the Ashburtons, for a ten days, early in next month.2 I confess I have small or no heart to the enterprise; little or nothing in Paris I much care to see: and if I am not in better case than hitherto, I shall not go at all: at the same time it seemed stingy and cowardly not to take advantage of so handsome an offer, but reject it absolutely; and so, in the end, it seems likely I shall go for the little while. A. Sterling is off there just now;3 people go in 11 hours, the short sail included; and seem to think nothing of it at all.

Various people have been here: Darwin with the Wedgwoods, Farie, Helps, and a big Irishman called Carleton4 (whom John may have heard of as a Tale-writer); Masson also, and Chorley: but, alas, alas, nobody comes whose talk is half so good to me as silence; I fly out of the way of everybody, and would much rather smoke a pipe of wholesome tobacco than talk to any one in London just now! Nay their talk is often rather an offence to me; and I murmur to myself, “Why open one's lips for such a purpose?” In fact I am not stiddered here yet, and above all must get rid of my cold.

Dear Mother, I need not say how sorry I was to learn your disappointment about the Dentist. I shall not soon forget that day I had at Scotsbrig after you went away; and the days that followed till I got up hither again! I know how quietly you would take the disappointment, and “study,” as a great Authority bids us, “therewith to be content”:5 but I had confidently hoped it, and cannot yet help regretting about it.— John tells me you are moderately well, considering the bad weather: Oh take care of yourself;—and tell him to write me another short word soon.— — Jane and I were speaking about the Scotsbrig butter &c this morning; but there was nothing settled; and now she is gone out: so it must lie till next time. We have a big keg of Irish butter still, whh I think is hardly so good as Isabella's. It shall be settled soon. Poor Mary must take care of herself! Especially at this time the weather is eminently bad for us all. My grateful regards to Jamie & Isabella. Bid the Doctor write. Adieu, dear Mother. Your affecte

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