April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 14 August 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440814-TC-MAC-01; CL 18: 178-179


Chelsea, 14 August, 1844—

My dear Mother,

This will bring you a glad hour; for it has good news in it from over the sea! Alick's Letter came this morning, and I will not lose a moment sending it off. Poor fellow, he is busy with his harvest while he writes; all in a heap of work, as usual with him from of old; and writes to me in his “midday resting hour.” I like the view he gives us of him very well indeed. He has grown leaner, he says, but far abler for work; I daresay he is much healthier than when at Ecclefechan; he is evidently in a far wholesomer way. Let us be thankful for all mercies!

I had a Letter from the Doctor on Saturday Evening last: I inferred that he was conducting you home from Gill, and passing the Post-office with you the evening before. You could get little bathing, it seems; but he describes you as not worse in health, in spite of the wet weather. Take care of yourself, my dear good Mother. When the sun breaks out again, you must yoke the Clatch [old Gig], and be off to Gill for another trial.

With us too the weather is extremely broken; today it is peppering and raining while I write; the temperature too is still warm; so that I suppose it to be very bad weather for harvest-people; who have not yet by any means got finished entirely even in these parts. They call it a fine Summer this, but had to complain to the very last of drought in many quarters, whereby their turnip and some other crops have failed. I am in hopes this hearty day of wet may rain it out, and let us take it for a Lammas Flood.1 The Town is got entirely solitary—people that follow fashion are ashamed to be seen here in this month, poor people! We have still rather more company than we want; and the streets, in the intervals of rain, are pleasanter than usual. I hope now to get a bit of work set about! Alas, I am very lazy; apt to be a real cool-the-loom [lazy worker] whenever I have a chance. Or rather, tho' I do not altogether quit the loom; I ply it so languidly; like the merest ploot,2 no more vigour in me than in a “Jay-Piet [Jay-bird],” as Jamie would say!—I must try to do better in time coming.

My health is pretty good; better, I think, than it was last year this time; I really am as well here as I could be in most other places, torn out of my old habits, and tumbled about as is the lot of travellers. Jane too continues pretty well, tho' grumbling at the wet weather.

Mrs Buller is here; waiting to go off for Nice on the borders of Italy, early next month. Jane goes often to see her. Three days ago I got a most mournful, brave and noble little Letter from John Sterling; written to me as a last Farewell!3 He has for some months considered himself as rapidly dying; and I now fear it is too true an anticipation. He is one of the cleverest and best men I have ever known.— Scott, whom John knows of, is come back to Woolwich; I am to go and see him the first good day. We rather understand that he is better, tho' still in a dangerous and precarious way.

The Doctor, I presume, will write a Sheet of news to Alick, direct from Scotsbrig. There will still be time if he is on the ground when this arrives. I will try to send a word to him also; but am little to be depended on for time; and far off the chief fountain of news. I am still in debt to Jean too at Dumfries; but you will send Alick's news on to her. The Doctor had better write to me again if I do not quickly answer him.— The rain still batters. I will carry this out after dinner whatever rain it be. Adieu dear Mother; blessings on you and on them all.

T. C