The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 17 January 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510117-TC-MAC-01; CL 26: 18-20


Chelsea, 17 jany, 1851—

My dear Mother,

Before going farther I will write you a little Note today. I fancied John had been with you again since Tuesday; but last night there came a hasty Note from him which indicated that he was to be in Edinburgh till Friday;—and so we can hope he is actually upon the road towards you at this time; and there will be a glad meeting for you (I trust) to tea this evening, after a while of absence! May it do you all good; both the travel and the return, the absence and the reunion!— You have not been very well yourself, I perceive, dear Mother; troubled with “toothache” (they say) and other ailments and discomforts in the dark weather; and alas you can stand so little; a little thing much oversets you now. Toothache, which is known for a sore and great misery,—toothache, I have often reflected, is a very hard affliction upon poor Mother whose teeth are so nearly gone! But you bear it all, I doubt not, with as much equanimity as is possible for you; and now I flatter myself to hear more expressly before long that it is mainly gone, and that you are got back into your usual course. One gets used to any kind of course; and it becomes much more tolerable by habit, however poor it be. Besides the Year is now turning out of the hollow depths; and I see in the skies prophecy of new sunshine, and better weather for poor weak people.— I hope you keep yourself very warm; Jenny would attend carefully to that; and you have coals within reach, and a chimney that does not smoke. Many thanks to Isabella for giving you that bit of scarf since you liked it: tell her I am much obliged, and will not forget it of her.

We are both of us going about here, neither of us specially complaining; Jane, I think, is decidedly stronger than is usual for her in winter,—owing partly perhaps to the warmth of the weather. No living person remembers such a winter for total absence of frost or cold: soft rain, mud, and a dim blanket of fog, have been the characters of winter here; nor does there seem any appearance of change yet, our late three days of dry brisk weather having gone into windy rain again last night. On the continent too, it would appear, there is no frost; all the rivers still flowing, which used to be hard as rock at this season.— I suppose too it is really not healthy; but what then? We must take thankfully such weather as is sent. As I once heard Coleridge say, “It's better than I deserve!1

People are still making a mighty pother about the poor old Pope;2 and one looks forward with sorrow to the tempests of empty jargon there will be, all spring again, about that sorry matter. Alas, the misery is not that Popish priests express from Rome have come among us; but the3 we are, here at home, all of us or almost all, a scandalous set of Lie-worshippers and worse than “Popish” idolators;—hardly one genuine Protestant (protesting solemnly against the Devil's lies, and solemnly dedicating himself and his existence to God's truth) is to be found among the million, this long while past. Hence these sorrows. They will not cease that by act of parliament, I fear!— — Today I send two Irish Papers which arrived last night, all filled with that kind of matter: here inclosed is also a short Note from the Editor of them (a noisy fool of a fellow, much celebrated in Dublin); I do not advise you to bother too much, reading his “papal beasts”;4 I think you had perhaps better light the pipe with them! I send also a Scotch-Yankee letter which came the other night, and which may shew perhaps that Scotland and Annandale itself is not without “bores” entitled to take a fair rank among “the 18 million”!5 I recommend that also for lighting the pipe.

Here is a scandalous Italian beggar come grinding his abominable organ under my window;—I had better fly into the garden and smoke till he get about his business! The ugly hallanshaker— But what can he help it, poor wretch? He has a better errand than Cardinal Wiseman, perhaps a better than Prince Albert himself, if it were well seen into in this country! We must be patient with him and with many things.— But here I end, dear Mother. Tell John to write when he has composed himself from the rattle of travelling. My best blessing with you all. Adieu my dear good Mother: I hope to write soon again. T. Carlyle

I also send you a Book, which I wish were a better one!—