April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 16 December 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18481216-TC-MAC-01; CL 23: 178-180


Chelsea, Saturday 16 decr 1848—

My dear Mother,

Before the Post close, I will write you a small word. Not that there is anything to say in the way of news,—nothing but the usual routine of things going on among us:—however, you will be glad to hear even that.

Our beautiful weather broke down, three days ago, into wild blustering rain; and today is as ugly a day of dim deliberate wet and mud as anybody need desire to see. Not very much rain, only a universal dripping, the whole air wet as jelly; and so dark, it is all I can do to manage without candles, here in a little room with three windows, before 3 o'clock! Very warm of temperature too,—it is our regular November (or soft December) weather; and we ought to be content with it. Indeed, as for me, I am; for one gets a quieter life here in rain than in other weather; and having thick old clothes, and gutta-percha soles to my shoes, I get no hurt from the wet streets.

John has got, I believe, or is just about getting his Book fairly out of his hands at last: a desireable consummation! He will now take well with a little rest;—and surely we shall all be content to see a bit of work well done by a poor struggling brother! He was here, a little while ago, looking after Jane, but I did not see him.

Jane has gone off to spend the afternoon and night with poor Mrs Buller; she consulted John before going, whether it would be safe; and he answered, Yes. Mrs Buller has removed to [a]1 place 3 miles from us now; and is, of course, very dreary and sad, poor woman: she wrote earnestly to Jane to come and see her. Jane has had three very weak days here (lost nearly the whole of two nights sleep, and the day before yesterday eat absolutely nothing): however, she feels much stronger today, and Jack admits that perhaps it may do her good;—so off she is, and I am not to see her again till tomorrow! She is always weakly, but holds together wonderfully too: Jack is extremely good to her in her headaches, and she is greatly obliged to him, as am I; but hardly anybody can render her much service in such cases,—she has the pain to suffer.

We were much relieved to learn that the Dumfries parties had got out of that frightful place till the pest pass away from it! It was surely altogether wise that they did so. The new virulence of Cholera in Dumfries, alone of all places, is a fact quite beyond all explanation I have yet heard: indeed, to read even Dr Sutherland's addresses,2 one surmises the Doctors still know almost nothing more than we (by aid of the plainest common-sense) do: one has to be very careful of one's general health; to know by experience what will help any evil motion in the bowel-department; and doing the best and wisest one can, leave the issue peaceably to One Higher.— —

Jamie made a kind offer about potatoes: you are to thank him for me very much; but say, we have quite given up the root here; and have decided to struggle along with Indian Meal, in the hope that we shall one day learn h[ow] to cook it! As matters stand, we do manage3 to eat a portion of it daily; and fancy we shall begin to like it by and by! I believe always it is not rightly managed in the grinding; I wrote both to Emerson and to Alick, asking for light on it.— There are Potatoes on sale constantly here; and often they have been offered me at dinners from home, but never any really good, this year. The price of the carriage, added to the price in Annandale, would make a ruinously dear article here; and besides, if they were really good, they would quite dishearten us from our Indian-meal career!—

I am still smearing and tewing [struggling] over my papers; and certainly, if I live, shall get to some kind of result by and by: but, alas, it is a long way off yet, and I have a glarry [muddy] step of road to go first.

Dear good Mother, how are you yourself! We want much to hear. Have you quite given up writing with your own hand? Jenny who is now with you, or Isabella whom you always have,—let one of these, or somebody, send us a word without too long delay.

Here are two Letters from the Gill that came yesterday: perhaps I may as well inclose them? Let there be no returning to Dumfries till all danger or apprehension be over!

Adieu dear Mother for this day; and expect soon to hear of me again, whether they write or not. My love to one and all. Your affectionate

T. Carlyle