August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 15 February 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470215-TC-MAC-01; CL 21:158-159.


Bay House, 15 feby, 1847

My dear Mother,

Ever since John came away, I have been a little stinted in my news of you; yet I hear a little still by oblique channels, and endeavour to persuade myself that in spite of the wretched weather there is nothing materially wrong. Yesterday, by a mistake which I could not well avoid, you did not get your Newspaper; and so today, before it go off, I will send a bit of writing with it, to apprise you more especially what we are about in this quarter.

After some haggling and canvassing, I am happy to say that we are now to get home again; that your next Examiner will probably come from Chelsea, as usual. We propose to go on Thursday first;1 but perhaps it may be Friday: that however is the latest; on Friday about 3 o'clock, if all go well, we shall be in our own little hadding [home] again,—glad enough to be out of all this apparatus, into simplicity and quiet once more. Jane has greatly improved in health; indeed she is now about as well as usual; and we hope may now do well henceforth. I myself expect, if we were home again, to feel somewhat better; certainly I ought to be so, for I have gone bone idle these four weeks and more, and have been well done to, every way: but the great tumult of servants and equipments here considerably confuses me always while it lasts; and I do not, for the present, boast of much improvement, and am glad only to say I am about the old pitch. I have passed great part of my time alone; wandering in silence by the shore of the sea, or among the sheltered lanes up and down; which is not an unprofitable thing either in its course: the memory of many things, which it were not good at all to forget, rises with strange clearness on me in those solitudes,—very touching, very sad, out of the depths of the old dead years. O my dear old Mother, what a stupendous thing is this Human life, that we live, in many cases, as if it were of no consequence! When I think of those old dear ones that are with God, and how we shall all soon be there ourselves, I have no word to say I sink silent into thoughts that far2 exceed words! I think within these two or three days I have gone over almost all your history, since I first became a partner in it, more especially; my good old Mother—ah me, the history of any genuine Soul is a kind of revelation too of God's great Providence; that too is a kind of Bible to us if we could read it!— I had a Letter from Grahame last week, which had a great deal about you; how heartily he sympathized in your ideas, how much he and all the circle you have lived in respected and loved you. I have many things to be thankful for; but my Mother, I believe, is the greatest blessing of all. God's grace and blessing be with us all. Amen, Amen.

Graham said you were not so well since Jack went away; no wonder too if the fierce storm have hurt you. However, it seems, you have not quite yielded: and now we have copious warm rains and the snow and frost are quite gone;—let me hope Isabella will write me again a little word or two to say that you are rallying again as the weather mends.— Here too we have had some days of very venomous frost, with the ground all coated deep in snow,—very unwholesome, unpleasant weather; but on Saturday night last there arose a wind from the West, which still blows, and which has set all to rights again in the way of warmth. I hope Jamie will get on with his ploughing now:—I suppose he will be cunning enough to plant few or no potatoes this year again; few wise men will be inclined to venture deep upon that frail bottom again for a while! The news out of Ireland; and the reckless nonsense they are doing in London to help not them, but their wretched spendthrift Landlords, fills everybody I talk to, or hear of, with distress and apprehension: it is likely enough next year may be as bad as this;—and in fact if the potatoes do not come back, we are got into a hobble of which I believe nobody sees the outlet!—

Jack writes to us this morning from Seaforth where he has been staying that he thinks of setting off “on Monday” (that is, today), but seems to intend going by Manchester, tho' not very positively: our little Maid is to [be]3 instructed today to receive him at Chelsea when he comes; we may expect to find him fairly arrived there on our return home. He tells me of a Letter from Isabella; which is my latest tidings from Scotland.

We have Charles Buller here today, who along with Mr Baring is going up to London after dinner, to vote against Bentinck and his Irish railway nonsense:4 we are about 80 miles from London, but they do it in little more than 2 hours; as if you were going to Annan!— Isabella spoke of your going to Dumfries shortly; which I think will be very good: however I hope this Note may still reach you without delay.— Dear Mother, adieu for this day: they are come into my room and are making a noise. If I were to write all week I should not tell you all I mean! But indeed you already know it by your own kind heart.— Jane salutes you with her best love. Our affectionate regards to Jamie and Isabella. God's blessing on you all.

T. Carlyle