The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 25 December 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18531225-TC-JWC-01; CL 28: 349-350


Scotsbrig, 25 decr, 1853—

Thanks, Dearest: all is well (apparently) at Chelsea, except your want of sleep and of letters;—I sent for your letter today, and got it by express,—in the saddest of all scenes; about noon, while we waited, all of us, in dread uncertainty for an Event, which has now arrived.— All is over now; and the Weary One is at rest. At ten minutes past 4 this afternoon she ceased breathing: it is now little past 5; and I must write immediately, or miss the post. You will not expect many words from me. She had been in uttermost weakness ever since I arrived; yet never in severe pain or distress till yesternight about dusk, when her breathing began to fail, and she suffered great trouble for some hours from that cause, and tried unweariedly many shifts for it, retaining her intellect and presence of mind, and tender affections even, to a degree that was quite wonderful to me. About 11 o'clock, John gave her some few drops of laudanum, which brought some relief, and about midnight she seemed disposed to fall asleep. When I entered the room about 10 minutes to 12, John said, “Here is Tom come to bid you good night.” She nodded assent; whispered audibly to me, “I'm mickle obliged to thee!” Those were the last words I ever heard her say. This morning, so soon as I got admittance, my impression was, the end had now come. She lay in heavy short-breathed sleep, the features waxing stony, the expression stern and grand rather than sad; so it lasted with hardly any change, except sometimes a little in the force and quickness of the breathing: towards 4 p.m. the breathing suddenly sank lower; and at 10 minutes past, without a struggle of any kind, the breathing, after 2 or 3 pauses, had ceased. Such a moment, such a scene, I shall remember thro' Eternity. We all wept.—— I have now ceased weeping. I will not write even to you any more tonight.

I am well enough in health; and have even got very tolerable sleeps these two nights. I reckon it a great mercy indeed that I found my Mother still alive when I came. She continued to recognise me, always with a peculiar affection; tho' her mind sometimes wandered, she was only once at a loss for my name, and in a few minutes sent for me from the other room to say that she ay and right well remembered me. God be thanked; God make me thankful.— Last night late, while the struggle for breath was very sore, Jean had gone out for coals (Sunday coals) into the little shed you may remember: “Where's Jean?” asked my Mother: When John told her, she bade the candle be held to the window for light to Jean. I never saw such a trait, nor hardly heard of such.— — Good night, dearest: I know you will pity me; and respect my sorrow, a just and great one,—of Nature's own sending. Adieu Dearest

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle