April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 15 September 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480915-TC-MAC-01; CL 23: 110-111


The Grange, 15 Septr, 1848—

My dear Mother,

We have no kind of news in this still and altogether idle region; but I will send you a word merely to keep your anxieties at rest, and assure you that nothing is wrong with us hitherto. In fact I think we rather improve in health; especially Jane, who seems fully fresher, and more able for walking or the like, than is usual with her at Chelsea. This good result, I suppose, must be ascribed to the air, which is indeed pure and excellent, with hardly any rain, but of late days with a perceptible frost on the contrary, which is decidedly too cold when the sun gets under a cloud. Except this salutary influence of “the air,” and the silence of green woods and downs and expanses, I know not any other favourable element; for our life here is totally without wise employment, distinguished rather by “wit” than by wisdom in our very talk; and the chief meal of the day is still between 7 and 8 at night. I myself begin to grow weary of such an existence; yet I do tolerably well when left quite alone (as is my case today), Chas Buller and the Lord A having set off to some Poor-Law Union or other,1 at an hour that did not suit me; and so left me to do as I like till evening. The women sit talking in the drawing room, with “seams” of make-believe sewing, or daunder out and in on short walks, go driving, &c &c, while I, with a Book, or with none as I like, sit in sunny places among the bushes, or go walking in the most solitary green avenues, no company visible at all but a few squirrels who are very brisk and pretty and care little about me: on these occasions one's own thoughts are one's employment,—and Heaven knows I need not want for occupation in that quarter! Strange memories, out of old years and distant regions, rise on me, sad and beautiful, in these solitudes; and if sadness be present with one on these occasions, beyond doubt it is good for one to be sad on occasion. I never fly from “sadness” altogether, for sadness has a kind of message to us withal; and he that would be wise will listen to that. A kind of artificial solitude one does enjoy here; and really that perhaps is the chief benefit of such a sojourn to me.

We have had Lord Grey and his Wife,—very small deer,2 to be governing a Nation, I think! Others are coming, new visitors I believe today; but they concern me little; they do thee neither ill nor good! Charles Buller, when I get him alone, is worth talking to, but in company he goes wholly upon “wit,” and merely makes one laugh; Lord An himself is decidedly a rather serious and clever-man; but he is bound into this imbroglio of vanities, and will not, I fear, amount to much either. Heigho!

I send you two of the Letters I have got, for a moment's entertainment: “Theodore” is of the Sect of “White Quakers,” whom perhaps the Doctor can explain to you: I have answered both Letters, and so want no more to do with them.

Jane had a Letter from the Doctor the next day after my Letter to him went. Thank Heaven he still reports well of you all, especially of you dear Mother! I have no doubt his presence with you is a real enlivenment, apart from the medical advice he gives. He was to go to Moffat, but only for a day;3 we hope he is now back again, and taking care of his Mother among other things.

I shall be anxious to hear when anything falls out concerning “the Station,”—for instance, when Hope Johnstone's opinion becomes known.4 But indeed I want still more to hear about Scotsbrig again, and anything concerning that and you will be sure enough to interest me.—

Jane comes running up to say that “Luncheon waits,”—where I indeed take nothing save a glass of water, but seem to be partly expected to shew face too. Adieu then, dear good Mother; God bless you one and all! I will write soon again, even if I do not hear, which however I hope.

Your affectionate son /

T. Carlyle