The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 29 March 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510329-TC-JAC-01; CL 26: 51-53


Chelsea, 29 March, 1851—

Dear Brother,

We received your two Notes, and are much obliged by them, brief as they were: we have no other way of getting news from Scotsbrig; and in that essential particular you never fail us. I see you are very busy; no doubt you have plenty of writing which you are obliged to see done; and I know by experience how little one is disposed for Letters, when a long spell of that kind is coming or is got over.

Our good Mother it appears has had a cold; which we are right glad to hear was of brief continuance. The wonder rather is, she had not had more illness this spring: here it has been one of the unhealthiest; universal influenza &c &c: indeed such weather as was enough to make any weak person unhealthy. The good Mother—she will get out now when the gowans come, and the clear skies: Oh take care of her; it is a perpetual comfort to me that you are there to do that. Isabella too, we hope, will get rid of her infliction soon;—and the doorways will dry up about you all, and the bright spring make you comfortable, after its wrestle with black winter is over. For above a week past, or indeed two weeks, the iron grimness of the North-east has been dissolved in such a deluge of wet as I never here saw before, at one time; warm mud and mugginess, with rain, rain, so that one wished almost to be a fish or a duck! Yesterday came a bright brisk blink of weather; and I went a long walk by Streatham &c, no company but Nero and the skies and earth; one of the finest of spring days: but this morning, we have the old story back with interest; sudden cataracts of rain;—and so, I suppose, it must last for some time. Let us not complain: it is blessed in comparison to the stern Northeast with its influenzas.

My little bit of writing whh had held me busy lately is now over, or nearly so for the moment, and I mean to have a loose day or two for rest before farther enterprising. It was a Sketch of John Sterling's life which I have been putting down;1 uncertain what to do with it: but Jane reading it yesterday warmly votes for immediate printing; so that probably will be its fate,—so soon as I have got a second edition made of it. I guess there is at prest about half a volume; with some letters &c that are to go in and other extensions that will be permissible or useful, it will make a small volume perhaps by itself; and, being a true story, containing light glimpses into several things, may be read without harm by those interested.— I was bound to do it; and it has not been very ill to do.

Duffy is here, for two weeks past; going tomorrow: we have seen but little of him,—tho' he is near by; staying in your old room, since ten or twelve days: Mrs Thorburn2 seemed glad that Jane recommended him thither. Twistleton and he dined one evg, another day he breakfasted; pleasant both times, but attended with such an explosion of bother and such volumes of talk (on my poor part, mainly)3 as quite disaffects me to such operations. Poor Duffy is in bad health, evidently much hurt about the liver or somewhere; Jane does not like the look of his health at all: he is truanting just now for health's sake, but seems to have endless business about his Tenant-league and such like. He had to ask Mill to become M. P for said league;4 Mill of course could not,—was not worth a doit if he even could. Duffy himself is to be a Member; item Lucas:5 they will have a merry time of it!—I saw Chapman the other day: yr Dante is pleasing the man by its continued progress. Wilkinson has a Book on Physiology almost ready,6—somewhat à la Swendenborg:—it was for his sake that I had gone to Chapman; who has now come to 93 Piccadilly, close by St James's Church. Scott at Manchester,7 on occasion of his first lecture or address, took some violent cramp abt the heart, and was like to be in a very bad way; but we hear he has now quite rallied again, and gets along with his function. The “Crystal Palace” is taking in floods of rain,—drip, drip in all corners,—and thousands of sparrows also fluttering about, getting ejected by poison. Shame may care—— Blessings on my dear Mother, and on you all. Write a word to me. Yours ever,

T. Carlyle