candlestick

January-July 1842


The Collected Letters, Volume 14


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TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 17 June 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420617-TC-MAC-01; CL 14: 204-206


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE

Chelsea, 17 june, 1842—

My dear Mother,

I will write you a little word today, that you may get it on Sabbath when you come over to the preaching. I hear nothing from you; but I force myself as much as possible to believe that all is moderately right. Your eyes, I doubt, are still sore; there is a kind of disorder in the eyes going about at present: indeed this hot parched weather must be itself very bad for the eyes. I hope you will write to me soon, and say specially how you are.

We have as hot a summer as need be here; which has the effect, among other things, of making me extremely lazy: I never hardly felt more incapable of hard work. I stay at home all day, for most part, among my books; then out towards night for a walk. There is no writing as yet; nothing comes upon paper, but perhaps there is something taking root under ground! We shall see by and by.— I have even grown too lazy for seeing almost anybody; I generally refuse all invitations whatsoever,—“cannot be fashed [bothered]”;1 “what's ta use on't?” Often too I am very much discontented with myself: how can I help it? By and by a brisker time will come for me; and a little right work again: it is the only thing of any value in this distraction of the world at all.—

The grass is all brown here; hardly a green spot to be seen: I understand there is every prospect of a good crop over the Island; this ought to reconcile me to a little heat. I hope even Annandale will prosper this year; and that things will go better with all of you and with everybody. There is great need of it everywhere at present! I hope showers too are not so scarce with you as here: we can get no rain at Chelsea; the other day there was thunder, and a fine black shower was seen travelling from the North; but it stopt when half-way thro' London, and we got nothing of it!— — I sleep pretty well; am fully as healthy as while with you lately: that is good so far as it goes. My window-blinds, in this drawing-room or Library where I now sit, keep out the Sun very reasonably; I can strip off my flannel shirt when the heat gets excessive, and then slip it on again when the Sun veils himself. Besides I have now a nice little back-closet on the third story of the house, to which I retire in the evenings when the Sun is quite gone from it: there I can sit and read; smoking at intervals; and looking out towards the East, over gardens, over a flat region almost filled for me with trees, with a few red roofs of houses rising thro' them; the gilt cross and ball of St. Paul's, 4 or 5 miles off, glittering in the extreme horizon, Westminster Abbey and some few other steeples visible nearer hand. It is one of the prettiest outlooks one can have from a Chelsea window; almost from any kind of window in so flat a region of the world. London lies with its great smoke-cloud, safe in the distance; and at night the gas of it makes a ring of beautiful light half round the sky. I sit there, and think of you many a time,—and of all imaginable things. I say to myself: “Why shouldst thou not be thankful? God is great; God is good: all this Life is a heavenly Miracle—great tho' stern and sad!”— Poor Jane and her Cousin sit in the low room; which extends thro' the whole breadth of the house, and has windows on both sides. There they sew, read, see company—and keep it out of my way. Poor Jane is still very sad; takes fits of crying, and is perhaps still more sorrowful at times when she does not cry. I try to get her advised out as much as possible. John Sterling is come to London for these two weeks, home from Italy; he will be a new resource to her. She seems to get no good of anything but the sympathy of her friends.

Mrs Buller is here, or was here two days ago and for some weeks before: she has exacted a promise that we are to come and see them in Suffolk by and by. I should like a little work done first!— She made me go the other night to the House of Commons, to hear Charles speak on the Scotch Church Question. The Scotch Church Question was found to be in a wrong condition as to form, and could not come on till the 5th of July:2 however, being there at any rate I determined to wait a little. It struck me as the strangest place I had ever sat in, that same House! There was a humming and bustling, so that you could hear nothing for most part; the Members all sitting with their hats on, talking to one another, coming and going: you only saw the Speaker (a man with an immense powdered wig, in an old-fashioned elevated chair) and half heard him mumbling, “Say Aye, say No; the Ayes have it!”—passing Bills, which nobody except one or two, specially concerned, cared a fig about, or was at the pains to listen to! When a good speaker rose, or an important man, they grew a little more silent, and you could hear. Peel was there, and on his feet;—poor Peel, he is really a clever-looking man: large substantial head; roman nose, massive cheeks, with a wrinkle half smile half sorrow on them; considerable trunk and belly, sufficient, stubborn-looking, short legs; altogether an honest figure of a man: he had a dark coloured surtout on, and cotton trousers of blue-striped jane: a curious man to behold there under the summer twilight.— — But I must break off, dear Mother, for here you see my paper is done. I wish somebody would tell me particularly how Isabella is, what she now suffers from &c. I have yet heard no word more of the Duke.— My blessings with you all! Adieu, dear Mother. Your affectionate

T. Carlyle