January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 18 February 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420218-TC-MAC-01; CL 14: 44-46


Chelsea, Friday 18 feby 1842—

My dear Mother,

By Alick's little Note I learn very gladly that you have got home again. He admits that you have been decidedly out of order, that you are still very thin; but assures me that you are now getting round again. I wish heartily I heard that you were got round again! Your best state of health is no very splendid one; we cannot well afford to have you far under that. My dear Mother, I wish there were some one beside you to enforce a proper attention to diet and regimen; I believe a great deal depends upon that. Good diet and warm clothing: these two are the most important points of all. I have directed Alick to send you over two bottles of the best Port-wine he can get; and I will beg of you to take a glass of it every day at dinner: you will find it do you some real good I think, if it be good itself. I will also request you to dine upon hens again for a while; there is no wholesomer dinner than a “boiled quarter of a hen,”—as I myself, under your nursing, dear Mother, long ago experienced! And so I pray you to avoid the bitter spring winds, and all evil influences that you can possibly get away from; to be doubly careful of yourself;—and on the whole to get well again, for all our sakes as well as yours.

Jane here, within the last four days, has fallen into a disagreeable fit of Spring cold; which keeps her within doors, and annoys her somewhat: we hope it will take its departure before long. She does not cough, she merely snifters &c; and we flatter ourselves it will not get the length of coughing. The rest of us are all in the usual way: Jack's fit of cold, which he had last sunday, is off (as appears by his note of today), and we hope to see him fresh as ever the day after tomorrow. I too keep my feet very handsomely, tho' in the birth-throes of a Book, as you know! It is a terrible business and will not get on with me hitherto at all; so the whole soul of me is filled as with a black confused lake, for which there is yet no outlet: a very unjoyful state of things. But I have known by past experience that such lakes do get an outlet; and indeed generally that the more painful the birth the better is the child born: so we must not complain at all, but hold on, and consider ourselves very fortunate and greatly honoured that have such pains laid upon us, were they far more painful. I am still going very cannily [carefully] to work; and will not “dad myself a'abreed [shake myself to pieces].”1

For the present I have an additional task; that of getting my Books out of the hands of Fraser's executors, and put (if I can) into the care of another Bookseller, who I hope may make more of them for me. It is a most barren affair hitherto the Fraser one; and a much likelier Bookseller is willing to undertake for me,—provided I can get the goods fairly delivered out of the hands where they now are. It will be decided perhaps in a week now. The worst is that the poor Books lie where they are, and go on as they have been doing; and this I begin to think is the likeliest way of it for the present. But in any new Book I may write, I will take another way of it, a far other! And all the old Books too will deliver themselves quite quietly by the mere aid of time, by and by. So we shall not mind it much; but only wish it would get settled one way or other, and leave us alone of it. Writing of Books, not getting paid for them appears to be my task in this world; and is my interest too: for verily what will all the payment in Creation concern me in a very little while hence, and then thro' all Eternity thereafter? Literally nothing at all! It will be no matter to a man whether they emptied the whole Bank of England upon him for wages, or declined giving anything but mere breeks and brose,2 or not even that; literally no matter to him whatever! Let them take their own way then. My dear Mother, I am everlastingly your debtor for having from the beginning of my days taught me this lesson, and inculcated it by all methods upon me: it is upon the whole worth all the lessons in the world, and all the others without it are worth nothing.—

Poor little Jenny will not think of America or her Luckless3 in these circumstances. The best were that she looked out for some little hadding of her own before Whitsunday; she shall be backed out in that, and will gradually come to a firm footing in her new circumstances,—very new, little calculated on, and painful; but which may be managed too, and better than ever, if she will stand to them!

We commend ourselves to Isabella and Jamie: poor Isabella, I have often thought of her unspoken sorrows4 in these last months. We are “born to trouble”:5 but all trouble may be either a blessing to us, or mere trouble and a curse, according as we bear it and learn from it.— I send Jamie a Newspaper some times; I wish he would write on occasion.

It is bright spring weather; people all digging their gardens. Farewell dear Mother. Take care of yourself, and get right, I beg of you!

Your affectionate /

T. Carlyle