April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE ; 13 April 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480413-TC-JC-01; CL 23: 15-16


Chelsea, Thursday 13 April, 1848

Dear Jamie,—It is a long time since we heard anything direct from you, and almost as long since you heard from me. I have been in a state somewhat indisposed for writing, this long while; and any letters I did execute were sent generally to our Mother, who is out of your district at present.— Isabella has from time to time sent us a little Note of your proceedings, nay Jamie the Younger1 is now up to writing: all these Notes I have seen; and return due thanks for them on my own score.

We have had a most sickly uncomfortable Spring in this quarter; the wettest, too, and muddiest for the husbandmen that I have seen since I came to live here. Grain is still cheap, they say; but the seedtime is admitted to be and to have been very bad, which, unless times alter, must infallibly raise prices. In Bedfordshire, a Gentleman tells me, they have had to dibble their wheat, instead of drilling it; no horse could brook such a soft element. The Spring wheats and barleys, however, they say (and indeed my own observation confirms it) look all well. Most of our potatoes seem to be, and indeed to have all along been, in a spoiled condition, the old disease still present in them; even the half sound ones, moreover, are excessively dear. As seed is likely to be a little more attainable in Annandale this year, I suppose you will plant a few; many is by no means to be recommended, now or, I doubt, in coming years.— — We heard also of the new Gig, which our Mother and you had purchased; of which indeed we were very glad. How lucky that the last old clatch did not lame some of you when it gave way! No clatch in our time was more thoroughly worn out before being quitted. Moreover, from the first, it was a bad one. Good luck to us all with this!— — Alas, we heard also of poor Mrs Howatson; how her lingering misery had ended as all earthly sorrow has to end! I suppose her own disease was from the first incurable.2 None could wish it lengthened out beyond the appointment;—and so we have to say again, Farewell. Poor Jean, I remember her from my earliest boyhood; she was one of the few figures that still survived for me out of that time; and it is still rather as a bright gay child than as a sick elderly woman that I remember her.—

The Doctor continues busy here; making way resolutely, tho' I think rather slowly. However, he seems much happier than he used to be; and his task does draw to an end. As for myself, I have but a poor account to give: the spring weather, I imagine, does not specially agree with me more than with others; this and many things more against one, not in one's favour! What is worst of all, however,—were it not remediable,—is that one sees no work going on; none hitherto;—which indeed is definable as the worst suffering of all. However, a new Book is perhaps getting upon the stocks; tho' I fear there will be a terrible time before it come off yet: without a struggle,—yes a bit of a struggle,—it will clearly never come off! That is the law of the case.

Jane went on a visit to the place called Addiscombe (whither we often go) almost a fortnight ago: she has a beautiful Spring scene all round her, a beautiful house, and is very quiet (only the Lady and herself there for most part); so that I expect she will return somewhat set up again: it is but ten miles off; I have been out twice, and found her very well considering. She has been but feckless ever since Newyearsday time.

I fear there is but little chance of Satter; little chance for me of an Annandale habitation anywhere. Do you know “the Norwood” in Milk-valley? I see it advertised for sale.3 I wish you could examine it, house, ground &c (especially the house) some day when you have leisure, and learn for me what kind of sum the people expect for it.— Adieu, dear Jamie: good be with you and all yours.4 Your affectionate Brother T. Carlyle