The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 31 December 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18521231-TC-MAC-01; CL 27: 387-388


Chelsea, 31 decr, 1852—

My dear Mother,

This is the last day of the Year; and it is Friday too, the last day of the week on which Letters can reach you: Let me write a short word tho' as usual “in extreme haste” (too usual with me here!) before going out for my daily walk.

Our bad weather is away now, and instead of it there is, for near a week past, weather almost miraculously beautiful for the season! Today is certainly the nicest mild sunny day one can well remember as the last of any year. Rain tries to come on again, once or twice; but cannot: I do hope it is now gone, and will stay for some time. My back-disorder is quite gone with it; and, sure enough, its absence is good company. Let me hope, too, my poor Mother will get a little profit from the clearer sky; Jack rather reported less favourably than usual, last time he was down, almost a week ago. Alas, you are very weak at all times, and can stand little new weakness! But let us not complain; let us rather be thankful, and hope. This world where we live is defined as the “Place of Hope,”1—and the Great all-embracing Father is around and above everyone of us,—here and forever. Amen, amen!—

We are well enough in health; I getting perceptibly clearer as I continue quiet. Hardly in my life, certainly never in London, can I recollect a more silent six weeks than these last have been: it is absolutely indispensable, for most people, especially for the like of me, so thinskinned and so confused a being, to get into perfect seclusion of mind from time to time, and to be well let alone. The most stirring of our friends are in the country at this season; we reject all “gaieties,” give or take no invitations in these still weeks,—and thus under the veiled skies our whole existence is pretty well wrapt likewise under veils. Better so than to catch indigestions, eating Christmas Dinners and listening to the follies of thoughtless creatures. Better always to be sad of heart than foolishly merry!— I cannot get into my work yet, at least not with any completeness of energy, or openness of outlook: but one must hew away; perhaps the rocky obstructions will yield, one day, and I shall get along again, to better or worse purpose!—

What is this thing that has started up at Ecclefechan, called a “Reading-Room,” with Lectures &c? I have seen notice of it twice in the Dumfries Newspapers;2 and rubbed my eyes, saying, “Is Saul also among the Prophets?3 Is your Ecclefechan going to have itself lectured to, like the rest?”— Well, I will wish it may hear much wisdom spoken to it, and that it may well attend to the same.

Jack told me of young Jamie, that he had seen him lately, and that he was doing well at Glasgow: which was very satisfactory to me. I always intend sending some word to him myself;—but am so tossed about with occupations, it is only by force that I can get a minute for any “odd business”!— — Our new Government is all settled now; and everybody is in hopes about it: “new besom sweeps clean!” Everybody may at least be glad of the downfall of that vile imposture called “the Derby Government,” which has given place to this.— — Alas, dear good Mother, and is this mean scraping of a letter all I can do for you? God bless you evermore!

T. Carlyle