The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 20 February 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510220-TC-JAC-01; CL 26: 34-36


Chelsea, 20 feby, 1851—

My dear Brother,

Thanks for your Note,—for your good news of my dear old Mother, and the rest: it is a great gratification to me to hear that she and the others are struggling on so well. Alas, I often think of her, and regret that I cannot help her at all! There is no object in my thoughts whh so affects me with pious and sad yet good emotions in this world. The cry of my heart still is, We are all in God's hand; whatsoever He wills, that is the thing which must be good!— In my solitary walks, thro' all my solitary life (which is solitary enough, tho' rubbed upon by so many) these things constantly attend me.

I am getting rather busy again, often in straits to get my task up to time,—I will tell you what it is, if it come to anything, by and by (no great thing, nor perhaps to be published at all at present);1—but I have to stand rather toughly up to it, being so lamed and hampered, and very ill with the liver too, in these times: today I have, by luck, gained half an hour or more; and in that I am writing to you.— Our weather seems far better than yours; frost late, dry for most part, and in general (as today) quite vernal, and cheering, the birds all twittering about in the Parks, and thinking of their bits of nests and weddings, poor objects! Last Sunday I made a long solitary course with Nero by the Wandsworth and Tooting regions;2 walked lustily in old lanes where I had not been for eight years; and conversed with the shadows of my past life, which looked, after a sort, divine too, tho' sad and stern to me as the lava of extinct fires.— — Jane is very tolerably well; Bölte has taken lodging in the Upper Cheyne Row, and is often with her.3 Tom Wilson (about to burst forth into heterodox preaching, I believe, otherwise a finish kind of fellow) comes often here,4 or rather has come, for I mean to abate him rather. Along with him was a certain heretic cidevant, one Foxton, Ex-parson, rather wearisome, last night; but he is gone for a time again. Many persons come and go, now that the Town is getting full again; one Howe a secy from Nova Scotia, wanting railways and “ocean-omnibuses”; one and still another:—alas, I can do little, but gently brush them all away again, and continue alone all the while. The “Crystal Palace” has always a simmering crowd round it, and the Park is already quite infested by the idlers it attracts: what shall we be in two months hence! For the rest, it is really a grand article, and most perfect of its kind, this same glass House; covers 20 acres; just about ready now; rises, narrowing, in three huge-stages, a round high ridge (perhaps 150 feet high) intersecting it across the middle of the topmost stage:—very grand indeed; and, from the Kensington Gore road, has somewhat the effect of Solomon's Temple as the old sixpenny pictures gave it us.— Sorrow on it, nevertheless! I believe I shall have to fly from the thing altogether, perhaps beyond seas; for I can not stand such a babble.

Gilfillan has sent me his Bards of the Bible5 which alas, on weighing it today, I found to exceed a pound: otherwise I wd have sent it to my Mother. I must wait another opportunity of conveyance.— Give my regards to Jamie, and congratulations on his draining. Our butter has unfortunately suffered from the warm winter:—on the other hand, Jane bakes cakes, oatcakes, nay the very maid can do it, and we enjoy cheese with the salt butter at dinner.— Good speed to you in your work, dear Brother. Give my heart's love to my Mother; my blessing to one and all.

Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle