The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 29 December 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18521229-TC-JAC-01; CL 27: 378-380


Chelsea, 29 decr 1852—

My dear Brother,

Your two Letters have come; for which I owe many thanks: I have got, as usual, no other news of my poor Mother; concerning whom it is always a charity to write to me.

The bad weather had abated for three days; Christmas, and the day before and those that followed, were extremely fine, and yesterday we had hopes of a little dry interval and frost: but within the last hour all is overcast again, and our old friend the Rain at his sorry work. My rheumatisms &c are pretty much in abeyance, however; and I hope to get into my old routine, with not above the load I am used to bear, before it be very long, in spite of weather, which in that case shall be very indifft to me. Work, in the steady way one likes it, is hitherto not possible,—at least not in the Frederic direction: I cannot decide to fling it all aside, neither is there yet any visible goal or route for me in the matter; difficulties of which, it is evident, there can be no remedy except in myself and what exertions I can make towards clearness. A stout hearty fellow, for making “exertions,” just now! However, we must not get pettish, or quite disheartened; we must toil on, the best we can, in all circumstances, even in these, while life is still left. There is an inexorable character in our History here below; and the most beneficent Deities insist ultimately, with a frightful strictness, upon what has turned out to be fact!

We had Brookfield here on Christmas Night; him by lucky accident, and poor John Welsh by design, to help away with Redwood's annual Welsh mutton: a more pleasant evening, thanks to B., than it might otherwise have been.1 That is the extent of our Christmas gaieties;—one indigestion, or partial indigestion, is enough, in honour of the “sacred season”; and we have remained steadily at home and quiet otherwise. The “sacred season,” by the way, is surely rather curious here: the people feel it a command of Heaven (very superfluous, one wd think), really something like a command, to eat roast turkey and be jolly all round; and “Christ,” who gives his name to the thing, serves merely, in this time, as a kind of painted cobweb to shut Eternity and its too stern facts out of sight: “Drink away, my jolly ones; no fear of being damned after all; the thrice excellent entity called Christ is there!”— This is a curious posture of affairs; and by no means the most blameable result realised out of it, for the English posterity of Adam just now!2

We have, as you may guess, been very busy getting our new Ministry on foot in these last ten days. It is all finished now, and gone to its partridge-shooting, for some weeks: I cannot say that I disapprove of it in any marked particular, nor approve of it either; all as well as could be hoped, and no better: a fatal conviction haunts me, not to my joy, that the whole machine is daily crumbling down and will plunge down, one day before long, into nameless ruin: may I not be there to see! The Duke of Argyll, poor little redheaded highhearted man, is in the Cabinet; of which I am glad: Ld John is going out, or as good as out, “in six weeks,” which also is not the worst of news. He is to make room for Lord Clarendon;—thenceforth merely to “emancipate the Jews,” and “lead in the House of Commons.”3 À la bonne heure [Very well then].

We hope the poor Phoebe is getting better, and that you will take care of her in these cold wild months! I know sore throat by experience, and like it very ill.— Give us some description of your way of life, of your general Umgebung [surroundings] and employt at Moffat, when you have leisure to write.— Here is a nice Letterkin I had from Clough in America the other day; pray return it when read.4 Also send me Archy Glen's Address?

Adieu, dear Brother.—Your affectionate T. Carlyle