The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 4 December 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18531204-TC-MAC-01; CL 28: 333-334


Chelsea, 4 decr, 1853—

My dear good Mother,

I wrote to Jean the other day, and have very little news to tell you; but I cannot let this day pass without sending you some word or other, were it never so insignificant.1 We are going into the country tomorrow, to The Grange, for two weeks or perhaps a little more; partly to let the Painters &c get done with that weary “room” of which you have heard so much; partly because the Ashburtons (whose house we visited lately without their own presence) would have it so, and Jane thought we were bound. She will go therefore, and I having landed her there, am to have liberty to leave again when I will: meanwhile I have bargained to be private, all day, in their big house, to go on with my work just as at home, &c &c: we will see how it answers; I confess I get no good of any company at present, nor except in stubbornly trying to work (alas, too often in vain) is there any sure relief to me from thoughts which are very sad. But we must not “lose heart,” lose faith,—never, never!

Dear old Mother, weak and sick and dear to me while I live in God's creation, what a day has this been, in my solitary thought; for except a few words to Jane, I have not spoken to any one, nor indeed hardly seen anyone, it being dusk and dark before I went out. A dim silent Sabbath Day, the sky foggy dark, with damp, and an unusual stillness the consequence. And it is this day gone fifty-eight years that I was born! And my poor mother— Well we are all in God's hands. Surely God is Good; surely we ought to trust in Him,—or what trust is there for the sons of man. Oh my dear Mother, let it ever be a comfort to you, however weak you are, that you did your part honourably and well while in strength, and were a noble mother, to me and to us all. I am now myself grown old; and have had various things to do and suffer for so many years; but there is nothing I have ever had to be so much thankful for as for the mother I had: that is a truth which I know well,—and perhaps this day again it may be some comfort to you. Yes, surely! For if there has been any good in the things I have uttered in the world's hearing, it was your voice essentially that was speaking thro' me: essentially what you and my brave Father meant and taught me to mean, this was the purport of all I spoke and wrote. And if in the few years that may remain for me, I am to get any more written for the world, the essence of it, so far as it is worthy and good, will still be yours. May God reward you, dearest Mother, for all you have done for me; I never can, ah no; but will think of it with gratitude and pious love, so long as I have the power of thinking. And I will pray God's blessing on you now and always,—and will write no more on that at present, for it is better for me to be silent.

Perhaps a Note from the Doctor will arrive tomorrow: I am much obliged, as he knows, for his punctuality on that sad subject,—he knows there is none so interesting to me, or can be. Alas, I know well he writes me the best view he can take; but I see too how utterly frail my poor Mother is; and how little he or any mortal can help. Nevertheless it is a constant solace to me to think he is near you: and our good Jean,—certainly she does me a great service, in assiduously watching over you; and it is a great blessing to us all that she is there to do such a duty.

As to my own health, I am almost surprised to report it so good: in spite of all these tumblings and agitations, I really almost feel better than I have done in late years, certainly not worse: and at this time within sight of sixty, it is strange how little decay I feel,—nothing but my eyesight gone a very little, and my hope (but also my fear or care at all) about this world gone a great deal!— Poor Jane is not at all strong; sleeps very ill &c &c: perhaps the fortnight of fresh air, and change of scene, will do her some good. But she is very tough, and a bit of good stuff, too: I often wonder how she holds out, and braves many things, with so thin a skin. She is sitting here reading; she sends her affections to you and to them all;—she speaks to me about you almost daily, and answers many a question and speculation, ever since she was at Scotsbrig.— I inclose a Cover, which Jean must return to me (if she can) with a word in it in a day or two. Give my love to Jamie also, to Isabella and them all. And may God's blessing be on you all.

T. Carlyle