August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 11 February 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440211-TC-MAC-01; CL 17: 262-263


Chelsea, 11 feby, 1844—

My dear Mother,

I got a Note from Jean yesterday, in which she tells me that you got safely down to Gill on Thursday afternoon. I fancy you to be most probably still there; at least I will try you with a Letter thro' Annan for Tuesday: if you be gone to Scotsbrig they will take care to send it after you without delay.

It is a great pleasure to me to learn that you are in your usual health, in spite of this hard weather; that is the best news that Scotland doing its utmost could afford me. Pray be careful of warmth and wrappage, dear Mother; also of your diet,—in which I still think there might be many improvements, if you would take due thought of it. But you never do take “due thought” of anything that you think concerns yourself alone!

We are pretty well here, all of us: Jane is whimpering a little about the cold weather; but she has never been laid up with it yet; and now that our snow is all gone and dried, and only a hard dry kind of easterly weather to struggle with, I expect she will get more robust as the season advances. We never had any winter, till three weeks ago, when frost, snow and all the rest of it came down upon us, at the wrong time: I hope it is done now.— Jack seems to be very brisk; running to Museums, to Houses of Commons &c: I do not think he is contemplating any real business, or feeling the want of any. It is very lucky for him in one sense that he can live on what he has already done and gained, without the need of working farther except as he likes. At the beginning of this month he wrote to Alick; I also meant to write, but found that the day was past before I bethought me. Alick's last Letter, which Jean sent while you were there, as you know, yielded me more satisfaction than any of the others. His mind, and whole fortune along with it, will clear up; by reflection, by solitude, and abstinence from all confusions [of whisky?], a much manfuller and every way happier future, we may hope, is opening for him. This Letter gives me indications that I like well. What a blessing, were there no other, to have fairly done with that accursed poison to body and soul,—which keep a man all the days of the year in a grey Devil's-dusk, without his ever being able to see the real God's—truth about his own self or anything he is engaged with! All good fruit becomes possible when a man bids adieu forever to this.

As to my Book, it is not absolutely stopping; but it is going its own gate [way];—a much longer one than I expected it might be! I study to keep holding on; “slow fire does make sweet malt”;1— I think I shall perhaps make something of it in the end, if I be at once patient and diligent! At all events I must and will endeavour.——— This morning there came a Letter [from] Sir David Brewster about a Professorship in St. Andrews for me: I have already written to decline it; Professorships of that kind do not now suit me; they come a day behind the fair.2

Now, dear Mother, you must let me know when you do get to Scotsbrig, and I will write to you again, and I hope, at greater length than now, when my “hurry” (too often the case) is really very great. Give our affectionate regards to Jenny (whose Letter I received3), to James and Mary, and all the household. Our kindest heart's-wishes are with you always. Farewell, my dear Mother, for this day. Ever your affectionate, T. Carlyle 4