The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 30 January 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520130-TC-MAC-01; CL 27: 19-21


Chelsea, 30 jany, 1852—

My dear Mother,

Last Saturday I wrote three blotted words to John, announcing that the kind Scotsbrig Box had safely arrived; I intended then to write on Monday or Tuesday more at large; but here it is Saturday again, and I have never been able to compass the due “leisure” hitherto!1 Leisure, in fact, if you are struggling to snatch any rational labour at all out of the quick whirl of confusions day by day, is not granted one hour. My morning walk two2 cuts off almost an hour of every forenoon; and then in the evenings, so liable to interruption otherwise, I am not up in my room here, and have no fire beside my writing-tools. It is like snatching furniture from a conflagration, to get any work done at all! But my Mother's Letter shall take precedence of work, then; whatever is swept into the corner, that shall not be swept if I can help it. The truth is, here as elsewhere one can write, and even work, if one resolve well to do it!—

The Ham has been cut into; and proves perfectly well kept (new indeed), and very good eating: there is a large stock of it ahead too,—especially with some additional contributions (a half ham &c) that have just come from Auchtertool last night:3—so that it will behove us diligently to eat, to be a match for the business. Which surely is a fortunate figure of affairs! Isabella's fine Turkey, for which give her many thanks, had to be exchanged for fine fat Fowls here,—which bargain it was clear to Jane she drew the shorter cut;—tell Isabella, as neither of us can eat turkey, she must not rob herself any more in that way. I mentioned the stockings, how excellent they looked; just the colour, grist and size I wanted: I will not break in upon them yet, least of all in this bad splashy weather, but keep them lying till my need is greater. I thank my dear Mother many times. She was always good to me, and still is. I can hardly look without moistened eyes on this brave lot of stockings, and think of all that has come and gone in that way!

Here is a Letter from the Brother of John Mitchel the Irish Rebel;4 which is hardly worth reading, unless the Dr be in good humour, and perhaps smoking his pipe at the time. I do not the least recollect the young man; but sent him a kind of answer for his poor Brother's and Mother's sake.5 Also there is a Letter (worth nothing otherwise) from “the Knight of the Open Countenance,” as poor Frank Dixon6 used to call him! That also, please burn. A still stranger Yankee Letter I mean to send; but Jane has despatched it, to The Grange, and it is not yet come back,—if it ever come, I will send it too. The man has a son 3 years old whom he got christened “Ths Carlyle,” so he says, more power to his elbow, poor soul!7

Our weather is quite wet and changeable; otherwise all is well enough with us,—Jane even speaks of renewing her habit of a morning walk. At present poor Nero has to be content with my company at that hour: the mirth of the poor little tatty wretch, coursing after sparrows which he never catches, eager as a Californian digger,8 and probably about as successful, often makes me reflect, and rather entertains me, in the Kensington field-lanes.

We do not in the least participate in the terror of invasion, which at present rages here. Two days ago the Bishop Thirlwall9 (ask John) came upon me, full of almost frantic apprehensions on that score, and went thro' the Park &c reasoning with me on the subject, and quite “astounded” (he said) at my indifference on the subject. I maintained that there was yet hardly the shadow of a probability; and, except of a temporary insult to our coasts, there was not, and could not soon be, even a possibility; and that, on the whole, if we had to bestir ourselves, out of the abominable Hudsonism10 and rotten canting confusion now everywhere prevalent, and fight for ourselves like men or be slaughtered as fat swine, it probably wd be a great advantage to us at the end of the account!— The Bishop cd not be converted to my opinion, all at once; but seemed to take some comfort from it nevertheless.

Dear Mother, you must make John write to me, soon and a little minutely, how you are getting on——. Oho! Here at this moment (3 p.m.) comes a Note addressed in his hand, and posted at Moffat, but witht a word from him in it,—which gives rise to various inferences! I inclose that too. Isabella will write if he don't? Your affecte

T. Carlyle