April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 19 March 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490319-TC-MAC-01; CL 23: 253-254


Chelsea, 19 March, 1849—

My dear Mother,

Before going out today I will write you a little word; a thing I have resolved to do for several days back, but always been prevented by some foolish Cause or other. How are you, dear Mother? We had Isabella's Letter, which was very welcome: but the weather has been very cold since, and still is. Many people here have sore throat, and other ailments produced by the hard north wind. You are wonderfully well, in general; which surely is a great mercy to all of us. Here, in our little circle, things in respect of health go on very tolerably: we complain of the weather too, but only as “disagreeable,” and are all going on foot as usual, strangers to the maladies that are said to be prevalent. Jane is very busy, making a “folding screen” out of heaps of old Prints and Pictures: it is a work of art,—a work, I well perceive, of time! It agreeably occupies the artistic female mind within doors, when there is bad weather without!

Our new Maid-servant does excellently hitherto: a nice, orderly, contented creature; likely, we think, to go on doing well. Helen too, we understand, has actually got another place; so that we take leave of her, not quite in the last stage, tho' probably the last cannot now be very doubtful for her. Jane steadily refused to tell a lie on her account; told the Dame who came here for a character to Helen, all the good of her she could, how willing she was &c &c;—and, at last when the Dame inquired, “Sober, of course?” communicated the real story of her drinking; which, tho' it staggered the Dame a good deal, did not quite overset her, so charmed was she with the “willingness” &c. So that matter too is well settled; and as Jane decides not to correspond with, or see, Helen any more, we will let well continue well.

I have been busy, these several weeks, patching together my Cromwell scraps; trimming all up for a new edition. I have finished it this very morning (at least I hope so), and can now expect that the Printer will take it mainly on his own shoulders, so that I shall not be troubled with it much, but let him produce it in a complete shape. It is to be in Four volumes, a handier shape than you have yet had it in;—so that you may look out for somebody whom you can give your second edition to, if you like, and be ready for this new one in due time.

I do not think we ever properly thanked anybody for that eminent bit of Beef Ham. It was cut into two pieces, boiled successively. The first piece,—something coming in the way, from Fife or Liverpool I think,—was put by untasted: when asked for, about a month after when the Fife ware was consumed, drunken Helen had eaten it all;—a feat for which she got very small thanks I apprehend! The second Piece, however, reached its due destination; and, for many mornings, was sparingly partaken of, and much admired indeed. We are now upon the Ham proper, Jamie's Bacon Ham: and “it is but fair to state,” as Jeffrey says,1 a better Ham was seldom eaten anywhere. Really excellent, and in perfect soundness too every thread of it; which latter is an essential quality, that has been more or less wanting in many specimens of late,—in the late Fife one, among others. Thanks to the kind Givers! The potatoes too, tho' not all that one could wish, continue eatable and very useful: the Butter lastly it appears is improving, as it draws towards the bottom of the kit! “Wae's tem wi' their bags!”2

This morning I had a visit from a most fiery Irish Protestant Priest, a “Revd Mr Gregg” of Dublin,3—who, if he could but interest “Thomas Carloile” in his ideas, would quickly get them disseminated over all the world:—but this, I doubt, will be very difficult to do!

Poor Mrs Buller has got delivered from her thousand woes, poor woman.4 She died, last week; hardly anybody, except my Jane in the least expecting such a change. Very sad; yet the only result to be desired: in my life I have seen no more entirely wrecked creature,— Dear Mother, you must get Isabella or some of them to write soon; a little word is much better than none. Tell us what you are reading: we can get you other Books easily here; indeed I perhaps have already some suitable. Blessings with you, dear good Mother, you and all. Your affecte T. Carlyle