The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 17 January 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530117-TC-MAC-01; CL 28: 12-13


Chelsea, 17 jany, 1853—

My dear good Mother,

It is truly longer than usual, and too long, since you have had a little word of writing from me. I am kept in a terrible bustle; but I should not neglect that! This is the third day that I have resolved on doing this little bit of pleasant duty; but only now can I get it done; always hitherto some vile thing or other has come in the way. I will be more resolute, and use better despatch, in time coming!—

We have properly no news here, none at all: our quiet way of life continues, and our wet weather, and other puddles outward and inward, have not ceased either! We should be thankful for the health we have, both of us; if we use our besom-machinery (and “sweep” honestly and well),1 the “puddles” do not gain quite the upperhand, after all.— Jane is out just now; gone out to enjoy the dry day (for there is a clear breeze from the North today) among so many wet. She complains of defective sleep &c, but still goes hardily about, and indeed I think is stronger than in past years. She reads now with specs in the candle-light, as well as I;—uses her Mother's specs, I perceive;—and indeed looks very well in them, going handsomely into the condition of an elderly dame. I remembered your joy over specs. Old age is not in itself matter for sorrow; it is matter for thanks, if we have left our work done behind us! God deal with us in mercy, not in rigour, on that head,—as we trust it will be for the faithful of us:—but in fact it is not a serious person's sorrow, surely, that he is getting out of the battle; that he sees the still regions beyond it where is no “battle” more forever. God is great; God is good!—

Jack sent me a little despatch about you on Saturday; for which I was very thankful. Ask Isabella to bear me in mind in that respect, when there is danger of defect otherwise:—I should like rather more description sometimes than John gives me of your way of life: alas, I can do nothing for you dear Mother; I can only sit passive in the distance, and look on with all the sympathies of my heart! I wish I did know anything I could do.

Two Newspapers came today; but I fear they are neither of them worth much. The Leader is growing very thin in late weeks; and I often think of trying the poor Examiner again,—which, alas, is perhaps worse if one actually saw it!

On Saturday night we went out to dinner; the first time these good many weeks,—to a brave enough kind of man called Brookfield, a kind of Clerical School Inspector, who lives in this neighbourhood, and has a great regard for my precious self and do spouse: the dinner was very well; loud-talking, by men of name, all brilliant, all &c2—I was very glad to get home again to my pipe and weekly-newspaper. Unhappily there is no other way here of seeing one's friends; and to me it is a very unsuitable way. Lockhart's son (Sir W. Scott's sole grandson) is dead,—he had been behaving ill, and much grieving his father, who is also said to be unwell of late:3—the Scott family is now nearly all gone,— — I will write sooner next time dear Mother; at present adieu. Your affectionate T. Carlyle