August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 16 November 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421116-TC-MAC-01; CL 15: 184-186


Chelsea, 16 Novr, 1842—

My dear Mother,

Along with this comes a Manchester Newspaper, which arrived here this morning;—out of which Jane has already cut a great hole! The hole contained, you may understand, something about me; so I have borrowed the cut-out piece of Newspaper, that you too might have a reading of it; and here it is in this Letter cover. You are to send it back again clean and safe: that is the sole condition! It will gratify you for a moment; and that surely is worth a penny!

The thing seems to be extracted from some Magazine published at Annan, and is very cleverly and kindly done. Who can have done it? Unless Johnston the good Schoolmaster, I cannot guess. What he says of my Father and my Mother is very gratifying to me.1 How thankful should I be that I have still my dear Mother to shew it to; tho' my dear Father is not now there to hear it! He does not need it now.— These things are a true reward to one; an encouragement amid many toils.

Your Letter with Jamie's, as Alick will have already told you, got duly to hand; and right welcome the little missive was. I could not at first, discerning Jack's hand on the Letter-cover, understand the thing at all: but a little consideration shewed me how it had been. You must not give up writing to me, dear Mother; your Letters are always a little blessing. At the same time I know what hard work it is for you; I will not exact Letter for Letter, but be content with what you can give— Tell Jamie he shall be answered before long. Today I send him the Dumfries Herald; Dr Russel of Thornhill (I think it must be he) generally sends it hither; I suppose, in return for a weekly rather useless Newspaper of mine which I still send to old Mr Dobbie,—Mrs Welsh used to get it, and then he after her, worthy old man. If I knew to which of you this Herald could be of any use, I would send it as long as it comes. Jack, I think, must send his copy to one of you, probably to Alick? This accordingly should go to some other, if to any. I send the Courier always to Canada now; oftenest without reading almost any of it, such a feeble concern has it grown. The Herald, tho' a foolish Tory, is worth ten of it.

You would hear of poor Allan Cunningham's death; and indeed will see something about it in this very Herald. I called on Saturday last, on his Widow and Daughter, as Jane had done before. The good Widow was weeping much, yet soft tears; reflecting on much mercy that had been mingled with her sorrow;—wholesomely resigned to a Higher Will. She told me Allan was unusually cheerful and talkative, just before the last fatal stroke; feeling himself suddenly unwell, he started up, ran to gaze in the looking glass, rubbed his brow (as he was wont, in sudden headaches); did not speak, when she spoke,—alas, could not speak. He started up a second time, and I think a third, to rub his brow at the lookingglass; then feeling how it all was, silently clasped his arms about his Wife and Daughter, and sank into the bed, and into the sleep which grew ever deeper! I was much affected. He was a good2 true hearted man; a strong, assiduous valiant man. His poor old Mother, I see, still lives about Dumfries, at the age of ninety.3———

Jane is better than when you last heard: her cold gone; only occasional headaches plague her a little. She hardly goes out at all, except to see Mrs Sterling (a mile and half from us), who is not at all well at present.

I too am as solitary as I can manage to be, going out to see hardly anybody. I am busy writing; actually getting something to paper at present, tho' a small thing! I must fire away while my hand is in.— We have very wet weather often times; then cold raw blasts from the East: these latter I like very well: I can go out all buttoned up, take long strides, flourishing my stick, and walk like a lamp-lighter for two hours at a time! I am in a very fair state of health, beyond my average;—fit for a little work: what would I be at?

The Dr talks of coming back hither about the end of the month: nay we heard yesterday from their washerwoman here (who is occasionally ours), that they were come; that she was washing sheets, counterpanes and so forth: but we conclude, it is only some Servant sent to make the house ready for them.

Today I had a Letter from America, a Major Adair from Dumfries;4 a great inroad of things and disturbances; which overset my work, and have made me decide on putting it off till the evening. This perhaps is the reason why you have a Letter from me today!

Adieu, my dear Mother; take care of yourself, and commend me to one and all. Good be ever with you, dear Mother!— Your affectionate

T. Carlyle