The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 13 February 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530213-TC-MAC-01; CL 28: 39-40


Chelsea, 13 feby, 1853—

My dear Mother,

I was disappointed on Saturday; but will not be today;1 so I take time by the forelock,2 and write you a little word before “going farther.”

We had a very hasty but most welcome little despatch from the Dr about you, the night before last; which gave us great satisfaction so far. He found you “not worse,” he says: alas, that is not much; but we must be thankful too for that! Dear Mother, this is really hard weather; and I think you are perhaps better to “keep in bed,” while it is so cold elsewhere. I hope you have something tolerable to read while there? I hope too the weather will soften before long; this harsh atmosphere is good for none of us: but indeed the sun is daily getting higher; and bright spring weather, according to the very Almanack, is on the road!

We have had snow here, which is very rare in this climate: snow with sleet, in broken dashes; a thin coat of white is still visible in all gardens and Parks; and last night (as was evident even in bed) we had a brisk crisp frost,—the first we have seen this year. I cannot say I like the cold weather nearly so well as I once did: it cracks my very hands (in spite of gloves), and is very uncomfortable for a morning bath, among other things! I do bathe daily however; and find that, any my3 two tumblers daily of cold water, do really well in regard to the liver region: I take no other kind of medicine at all; and am visibly rather better at present than I often am.— I keep struggling away among my Books; irksome enough drudgery of various poor sorts; but I hope I am scraping soil together to “big the dyke with,” one day!— Jane also seems a little better in the sleep department, and otherwise does not complain. She has been in much anxiety this day or two about Mazzini and his mad “insurrection at Milan” (concerning which I sent you a Newspaper the other day): a very mad “insurrection”; but a “man” really of much worth in spite of all that,—and who probably could not well help its taking place, as matters stood. If the Austrians could catch him, they would willingly give a big “town of land” for the prize, and shoot him down like a mad dog: but they cannot quite; and that too is a kind of comfort. We learn this morning that the “Insurrection” is quite suppressed and gone to pot; but that Mazzini himself is “in safety.”4 Let him continue so!

The other day I took a long walk into the Country to look after a poor Scotchman called Maccall, who is in very bad case just now. A man of much faculty; bred originally for preaching, and who has had congregations, twice, in England, but could not get on with them (owing to his own honesty, ardour &c but also to his own pride, I think); whereupon some 7 or 8 years ago he gave up preaching altogether, and has been in London, with Wife and one child, trying to “live by his pen.” At last he is broken down in health,—frightful shattering of the nerves,—and one knows not what to do with him! I found him, that day, gone into the country (to some friends), and not there; his wife, a fine cleanly hardy Lancashire little woman, pleased me much with her air of quiet steady courage:—and I left the poor cottage with many sorrowful & yet respectful reflexions in my mind. Jane begs, from some of her rich friends, for poor M. He is a good man too, and high, tho' too lean,—and harsh-edged, as a rusty lipped razor!—

Our Scotsbrig butter, excellent to the last, is done;—to the regret of the public,—six weeks before its time! We could have done with 20 pounds more, had we known it wd keep so well.— —Enough now, dear Mother: for I have many things still to do. Give my regards to Isabella, to Jamie: my best blessings be with you all. Ever yr affecte

T. Carlyle