The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 5 April 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510405-TC-MAC-01; CL 26: 55-56


Chelsea, 5 April, 1851—

My dear Mother,

Tho' I have got a very bad pen, and am in no good case for writing, I will not let the Saturday pass and the week end without a little word to you, which I know will give you some pleasure tomorrow. I have heard nothing from you this week, and am not without my anxieties about the cold frosty air, and its effects on poor Isabella and you: I can only hope you are not suffering beyond usual from it; and long for another express message to that effect. The weather is bright here, with minimal April showers; but, for the last few days, has been getting drier, and treating us to frost at night, which I think answers rather worse for one than wet thro' the day. Both Jane and I keep moving about, at a rather brisk rate, nevertheless; and are in general fully up to our usual level.

I told the Doctor about John Sterling's Life, a small insignificant Book or Pamphlet I have been writing. The Bookseller got it away from me the other morning, to see how much there is of it, in the first place: I know not altogether myself whether it is worth printing or not; but rather think that will be the end of it whether or not. It has cost little trouble, and need not do much ill, if it do not great amount of good!— I have sometimes in view to write down some account of Edward Irving too while my hand is in: but this, if I even did write it, and had the materials for writing it (Letters &c, which I have not) would not do for publishing during my own lifetime.1— Alas, alas, I have so many things still to write; immense masses of things—and the time for writing them gets ever shorter, and (as it seems) the composure, strength and other opportunity, less and less! We must do what we can.

London becomes more and more crowded; figures in beards (from abroad) and figures in country coats (from the home provinces) are already frequent in the streets and omnibuses. Sorrow on them, the idle blockheads;—and on us, who have sent for them by our idleness! The decided likelihood is that I shall run and leave London when this foolish “Exhibition” makes the place too hot for me: but in what direction I shall go is not in the least clear. Jack invited me a while ago to Scotsbrig and to you for shelter,—thanks, dear Mother, many are the times I have taken shelter with you!—but this, I conclude, at present, will hardly answer: in fact I am weak (very irritable too, under my bits of burdens, and bad company for anybody); and shall need a long spell in the country somewhere if I can get it. Some water-cure, Germany, various places rise on my poor fancy:—and in general I feel as if it would be very good for me to be covered under a tub, wherever I go,—or at least set to work, like James Aitken's half-mad friend, “Ay maistly in a place by himsel'.2— — We shall see, we shall see.

The other night we were at dinner with the Ashburtons; a pleasant kind of party, Henry Drummond Milnes &c there: tonight we are to go to the Ferguses quite by themselves too (that is the bargain), which will at least do less ill to us on the health side.3 Two other dinners are ahead for next week (to my horror); and then I hope there will for a good long while be no more of them. Jane rather likes to go, or seems to like; otherwise I think I wd refuse them nearly all:—but yet perhaps that also would not do.—— Dear Mother, here is John Chorley who has sat himself down to wait for me: I must end. How is Isabella's cold,—and my Mother?4 Bid Jack write.

Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle