The Collected Letters, Volume 11


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 8 October 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18391008-TC-MAC-01; CL 11: 201-203


Chelsea, 8 October, 1839— / Tuesday—

My dear Mother,

Jack has got a frank, and is writing you, I suppose, or has written you, a long letter: he is now gone out; but leaves me this bit of paper to say a word for myself upon: the frank shall not go without my doing it. As you would get a copious despatch from me addressed to the Doctor, just the morning after he had left you, there cannot be any news today; for of course you would open that sheet, and read it,—and I fear think it very dear at the money; however, a word is a word even tho' it contain nothing.

Jack knocked at our door in a raw morning rather before six o' clock; I alone was up, half-dressed or less, sitting smoking my pipe, a little too early for any other beneficial purpose! I opened the shutters; recognised my brave Doctor with great pleasure. Helen was soon on foot, got us breakfast by the kitchen fire; and all was right. The Doctor seemed not to have suffered by his journey at all; he went to bed and slept, slept again next night, and on the morrow was as fresh as if there had been no travelling.

He brought us news of all of you; sad news of the harvest weather. We have now got dry east and north winds; I do hope they extend to Scotland and poor Jamie, whose post is not an enviable one at present. Austin too must lose considerably we fear by his crop of this year; but it cannot be helped; there was no other way of getting into a farm. What is to become of the poor people this winter, those who are scarce of work with provisions so scarce, one cannot well see.

You, dear Mother, suffered much from toothache and cold, Jack tells me; but he asserts you were in your average state when he left Scotsbrig. One message he delivered that affected me greatly; not to greeting [weeping], but almost on the way towards that: “I was not to be deterred from coming back to Scotsbrig by the confused treatment I had found.” Ah me! There is little danger of that! I have nothing to say about treatment, except that I know not how to thank you, one and all, for your unwearied kindness to me. God is good, who still leaves Scotsbrig and my Mother's hearth accessible to me from time to time. While we are all spared on the face of this earth, we shall never be quite separated. We will toil along, each in his place, and always cry good-speed to one another now and then.— I was also very glad to learn that you and Alick had come upon a definite agreement about the houses: it will be far better for all parties, and you in the first place.

The Wilhelm Meister, Preface and all, is now fairly tied up, and off to the Printer; so that I have nothing more to do with that now, except correct a few sheets. I am studying determinately whether I shall actually write that Article I spoke of, and how and for whom I am to write it. Work is indispensable for me: work I shall and will have. Meanwhile I go daily out to ride; sometimes into the Park, sometimes over the River into the country, or somewhere else into the country, which is all very beautiful and pleasant for riding here. Sometimes I fall in with some friend, also riding; and then it is quite cheerful to go trotting together, thro' green lanes, from one open common with its whin-bushes and high trees to another. My horse is in the best order; it does seem to do me good: I will try it out for a while, and see what comes of it, dear tho' it be.— Jane longs greatly for her side-saddle, often lamenting that I did not bring it in spite of all. I tell her it will soon be here with the butter and oatmeal, all of which are wanted. She is very well ever since our return; and has a better outlook towards winter than she has had for some years back.1

Did you get the Books yet from Dumfries? Perhaps they may just be coming for you tomorrow, which is Wednesday. You will get some reading in them; you will read John Sterling's Article with interest. I have now been, I think, sufficiently praised: I remain the same unfortunate insufficient “cameral [sprawling, awkward person]”2 I was before, nothing, alas, changed in me!— Good be with you, my dear Mother. Take care of these sharp raw-frosty mornings. My blessings with one and all. Yours from the heart always

T. Carlyle