The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 23 April 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530423-TC-MAC-01; CL 28: 118-120


Chelsea, 23 April, 1853—

My dear good Mother,

I will, as usual, send you a short word before the week end, tho' in truth there is, as it were, nothing to tell. We go along here as quietly as we can possibly manage; the more quietly, the better for us always; and have little to do with the noisy activities and rumours that occupy men's minds in this restless neighbourhood of ours. We are both still going about in what is called our “usual way”; neither of us professing to be at all worse than usual; and yet I think poor Jane is rather a little below par for a week or two past,—very ill off for sleep now and then,—which I impute to the severe weather we had so long; a thing more or less deranging to everybody's health. She is out today, in the bright sunshine somewhere, and I have not seen her since breakfast-time: for three days before, owing to a dreary eastwind rain or damp drizzle (which was always prevalent, and, yesterday, never ceased at all), there has been little outgate for her. She is very tough too, and is not plagued with her headaches as of old. Next week we are to have the carpenters again; their sad job was not ended last year after all! Happily it is only for a few days this time; finishing my Book shelves, putting on outer window-blinds (against the hot weather) &c: what remains of painting, we design to put off till Autumn, till we ourselves are fairly out of the way of it. I trust this may be the last time I shall ever have to be concerned in “repairing” a house, especially in London!—

My poor “work” is getting on dreadfully ill; alas, I am much to blame in it myself withal; no longer so swift and spirited, perhaps,—and yet I too often neglect to employ well all the strength I still have. Woe's me! There is nothing whatever in life that I deliberately put any value upon, except this of getting something worthy and useful done, while days are granted me in this world; and that itself escapes daily out of my hands,—and I cannot get along towards any winning-post at all. “Much of my life has been trifled away!” as poor old Johnson said.1 Alas!— But really there is nothing can set this old horse fairly on his feet, but putting him into a right rage of remorse against himself for lying helpless: “very stiff t'ye reise, Sandy, man!” So I must not quarrel with my present dispiritments; but struggle to do better,—better in time coming. Up, up, thou stiff old spavined Hacklog; up, while it is called today!—

We have been twice out this week, at Bath House (the Ashburtons'), and are to go again tonight; which is rather heavy duty! Jane likes it (I think) a degree better than I do; and yet not she very much. There is plenty of bright witty talk, but very little wisdom going; which is a great pity, and common in human assemblages at present. On the 2d of May, which will be 10 days hence, we are to be at a Ball (forsooth) by Lady Stanley,—which will do little for one individual that I am acquainted with! In fact had it not been that those Stanleys are among our oldest friends here, I should have been off at once; that would not do, however. Happily it is our last visiting adventure for the present; happily too our Bath House tonight is not a dinner, only a “party,”—that is, 5 or 600 “distinguished people” gathered together to simmer about, and go grinning and becking, and exchanging short witty talk with one another. “Oh Whow!” as Grahame ejaculates. However, one can come away whenever one likes; that is always something!—

Dear old Mother, may I not hope this sunnier weather will now do you some good too? You have stood the hard dark months, weak as you often were, very bravely; and now there are many things in your favour. Oh, let us thank the Giver of all Good for His merciful lovingkindnesses towards us (for such they truly are); let us trust in Him, and tho' the world fall in pieces, no Evil can overtake us! It is one of the greatest comforts to me to reflect that my dear and brave old Mother was and is a pious Mother reverent of God and trustful in Him: His blessing be upon her,—and upon all of us, forevermore!

I'll add no more; but subscribe myself (with love to them all)

Your affectionate

T. Carlyle

I have sent Jean a Book which came to me today; it is very long since I heard from her.— I also wrote to Jenny, in Canada, this week.