The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JANET CARLYLE HANNING ; 22 April 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530422-TC-JCHA-01; CL 28: 117-118


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea / London, 22 April, 1853—

My dear Jenny,

Tho' it is a long time since I have written to you, no mistake can be greater than that I have forgotten you! No, no, there is no danger of that; my memory at least is active enough! But I live in such a confused whirlpool of hurries here as you can have no conception of; am [al]ways in poor weak health, too, and in corresponding spirits; and for most part, when my poor stroke of work for the day is done (if, alas, I be lucky enough to get any “work” done, one day in ten, as days now go!)—I have in general nothing for it but to shut up my ugly cellar of confusions, and address myself to the task of being silent,—writing no letter whatever but those I absolutely cannot help. That is the real truth. And you must not measure my regard for you by the quantity I write, but by quite other standards.

We regularly see your letters here; and are very glad indeed to observe that you get on so well. The fits of ague-fever you had at first were a severe introduction, and began to be alarming to us; but I can hope now it was only the hanselling of you in your new climate; and that henceforth you will go on with at least your old degree of health. One thing I have understood to be of great moment (indeed I am sure of it) in the Canada climate: it is, to take good care that your house be in an airy situation, quite free from the neighbourhood of damp ground, especially of stagnant water, and with a free exposure to the wind. That indubitably is of great importance: you are accustomed, from sound old Annandale, to take no thought at all about such things; but, you may depend on it, they are necessary and indispensable considerations in your new country; and I beg you very much to keep them earnestly in view with reference to the house you live in. Plenty of dry wind, all marshes &c at a distance, and there is no more danger of ague in Canada than in Scotland. That you shore up your windows in season, and keep your house clean as a new pin: these are advices I need not give, for you follow these by course of nature, or inveterate habit, being from of old one of neatest little bodies to be found in five parishes!— — In all remaining respects; I find you have chosen clearly for the better; and, I doubt not, are far happier in your reunited household than you ever were, or could have been, in Dumfries. It was a wise and courageous adventure of you, to take the Ocean by the face in search of these objects; and all your friends rejoice to learn that it has succeeded. Long and richly may you reap the rewards of your quiet, stout and wise behaviour, then & all along, under circumstances that were far from easy to manage. And God's blessing be on you always, my poor little Jenny!— I hope, too, poor Robert has learned many a thing, and forgotten many a thing, in the course of his hard fortune and wide wanderings. Give him my best wishes, temporal and spiritual; help him faithfully what you can, and he (for he has a kind enough heart) will do the like by you;—and so, we hope, all will be better with you both than it is with many, and continue to grow better and better to the end.— I recommend myself to the nice gleg little lasses, whom I shall not forget, but always think of as little however big they grow. My blessings on you all.

No doubt, you know by eyesight whom these two Talbottypes represent! Mine is very like; Jane's (done by a different process) is not quite so like, but it will serve for remembrance. I begged two pairs of them a while ago, and sent one to Alick (‘Jane slightly different in his set); the other pair I now send to you,—and wish only it were some usefuller gift. However, they will eat no bread; and so you may give them dry lodging: that is all they want. I heard from the Dr at Moffat the day before yesterday: he reports our good old Mother to be in her usual way, and now with the better prospect of summer ahead. Poor Mother, she is now very feeble; but her mind is still all there, and we should be thankful.—The rest are well; John to quit Moffat in july, but [several words missing] Jane sends her kind regard. Adieu [words missing]

The white mat on Jane's lap is her wretched little messin-dog “Nero”!—a very unsuccessful part of the drawing, that!

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