The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 11 July 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-185307011-TC-MAC-01; CL 28: 196-198


Chelsea, Monday 11 july, 1853

My dear good Mother,

I was twice disappointed last week in my purposes of writing to you; two days, one after the other, I proved to be so chased with paltry little hurries that I could not get my poor Mother spoken to as I meant: but today I have shoved my papers aside in time, and will not miss.

John's report of you is rather more comfortable than before; it was of that day when Dr Hunter and he were with you: he says you were very frail, but clear and cheerful to a beautiful degree. That is well! Let us bear the burden piously that is laid upon us, each with his best virtue and ability, and all shall be well!—

No doubt you have heard that Jane has got to Moffat; that Helen & she flew past you the day I had predicted it, and suffered nothing by their journey. Jane has since been at the Grey Mare's Tail, she informs me;—and ran a bad and useless risk, it appears, in climbing some steep place there; for which she deserves rebuking as an ill bairn! She said, no day was settled for coming down to Scotsbrig; but I hope they will settle it soon, and send me news. John was consummately kind to her, she says, and all was going on very well.

I have got into my old room again, Painters about all off (let us hope, not to return soon): with carpet off, and with doors and windows open to the due pitch, I easily shift against the heat hitherto; which indeed has never yet been excessive; always rain from time to time, sometimes a night of beautiful lofty thunders; and few days without some fresh air of wind stirring. One of my worst evils in summer time, in certain states of nerves at least, is the great increse of noise: I have to keep doors and windows more or less open for air; and all men and animals take to giving voice in the bright weather. It is astonishing how many cocks, parrots, singing thrushes, dogs, dust-carts, dandy-carriages, do announce themselves thro' these open windows even in the quietest localities! However, I generally get perfect stillness in the night-time; and have really a fair chance of sleep in my new room; being at once dark and silent, yet with the freest air, and both door and window admitting it. Surely many times I am thankful for my quiet bed, when the broken fash of the unsatisfactory day is done!— I sometimes think, however, I shall yet on the tiptop of the House, that impenetrably “silent room,” double walls, no windows but in the top,—entirely impenetrable to sound, except out of the skies;—and shift up thither with my Books and Papers in my old days. I cannot get into the country regions; I cannot, gladly as I would in many points of view: but in such a room, hanging only to the sky, one might do without country, and get one's poor work a little better attended to!— — Alas, alas, my work gets still most miserably ill on: and truly I have chiefly myself and my feebleness, and feckless irresolutions and darknesses, to blame for it; which often produces remorse enough, if that would help in any measure! The fact is, there is dross in very great quantities in the subject I have got; and dross in very great quantities in one's own poor self; and both these drosses have to be burned away, before the true result can be arrived at; and the process of such “burning” is not a very pleasant one. We cannot help it; we perhaps should not speak of it.

I sent you a Westminster Review in which there was but one Article I wanted you to read: the first in the lot; it is upon Knox by a man named Froude (an impartial English witness), and seems to me well written.1— Jamie's Newspaper today again is not come: last monday all your Newspapers were belated. I was within an inch of missing the Letters too, which have half an hour of farther time granted them. I have not had a Note from Dumfries for some time; but I think Jean is often writing Scotsbrig way. So will I too again before long. God bless you ever, dear Mother

T. Carlyle