July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 29 July 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470729-TC-MAC-01; CL 22: 21-23


Addiscombe, Croydon, 29 July (Friday) 1847—

My dear Mother,

Surely I am bound to write you a little word today; having absolutely no prospect of doing anything as praiseworthy till the Sun go down! I got all my little trumpery work (as I call it) finished yesterday; and today, except strolling out with the Quality, smoking tobacco, and other such employments, am to be totally idle.

We came out here almost a week ago: it is the Baring's Place (the same people we were with in winter),1 quite a little beauty of a place some ten miles off London; to which they are always running out when the hot pavements begin to afflict them,—or when the scene gets wearisome or otherwise offensive. For in fact, they, and others like them, are “gay [very] idle of wark!”2— Jane came out with the Lady last Friday (this day week); I followed next day; and here we have been ever since, extremely quiet; and are to return tomorrow to our own poor Chelsea again. Both of us profess to be perceptibly better by this week of country, in the great heat. London is a terrible oven when the Sun is out and no rain. Here one does not mind the heat; for there is shade of trees, there is free wind, green ground &c, &c. People are all in the very heat of their harvest; shearing wheat, beans and peas; mowing oats and barley: I think I hardly ever saw better crops, so far as I can judge. The potatoes, however, it is expected, will not hold out, tho' their stems are still green.

Dear good Mother, I wish I could tell you when or how I am to come northward, and see you again! But, alas, all that is quite vague yet; Jane needs, really needs, a little country air this year; and I have not yet been able to fix on any route or scheme of travel that will altogether answer both sides. Sometimes I think of coming off into the mountains straightway, and letting all the rest go as it likes: at other times,—so wretched a traveller am I, and suffer so much by being bowled about into strange places,—I almost decide on sitting still at Chelsea, as the quietest place, now when the Town is all quiet! But that, I think, will hardly do either. In a little while now, you shall hear what is to be the way of it.

Jack has begun printing his Book; a leaf of it that I saw, looked considerably better than I expected. He does not yet decide on coming to you, but will come I believe without fail before long. We cannot rightly be there together, at least not for any length of time: but I urged him, the last time we talked, to set off without reference to me; which I would still have him do. His Book once begun, and fairly set under way, there will be nothing to hinder him from coming, and staying.

This morning I got a Note from Mrs Johnstone of Grange,3—interesting to me as a shadow of old past days. I send it inclosed here; that you may read and burn.

The “elections” are going on at a great rate; Mr Baring is dashing hither and thither, much interested by them,—tho' himself safely elected, two days ago. Lord Johnny Russel, and the other three “Liberals,” were all chosen yesterday in London.4 Buller is off in Cornwall, not without some anxiety for his place.5 Thus they:—as to us, as to me, I cannot pretend to look otherwise than very sorrowfully at the whole sorry job; worthy only of “scourie [shabby] devils from the Priestside,” or such like, if men saw into it well!

Poor old Sterling6 had another fit of illness some three weeks ago, which was expected to kill him; but he has got thro' it again,—poor old man, his mind too is quite gone now.— Mrs Buller was lately in Town; she is exceedingly thin and weak; indeed I hardly ever saw so thin a creature: but she has a wonderful heart;—Jane sometimes speaks of going to her (over in Suffolk),7 with whom she is a great favourite.— — Thank Jenny for her welcome little Note. O my dear Mother, what a hasty babblement is all this;—for indeed my thoughts are quite dashed to pieces in this idle element! But I will write soon again; and I hope, perhaps with more sense. Commend me to Jamie, to Isabella and all the rest.— Do you ever dare to try the shower-bath in the great heats?—— My blessings on you, dear good Mother.

T. Carlyle