The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO ISABELLA CARLYLE ; 22 January 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530122-TC-IC-01; CL 28: 16-18


Chelsea, 22 jany, 1853—

Dear Isabella,

About two days ago came an illustrious sack of Hams; and a few hours afterwards your Letter, explaining (what we had already guessed) from whose kind hands they were. We give many thanks to the bounteous souls that provide us with such good things; and shall often remember Scotsbrig, and you and my good old Mother while these two Hams do their duty! Such thoughts may well give new relish to every morsel of the excellent food; and might indeed sweeten into excellence a far less savoury article. We can only say again, we are greatly obliged; and will wish, May they that give so well never want!— The Carriage was only 3/6;—the hams are beautiful to look upon; and are hung up duly till their time come. We must despatch with our bacon, it would appear! For Walter Welsh, the Minister, had just sent us a small sample of his skill in that way (accompanied with a lock of oatmeal, which was equally supernumerary), and some other friend of Jane's has since left us another specimen of Ham,—guessing our talent in that direction! Give us time, we shall handsomely get thro' the whole (I have no doubt), and clear the decks in a triumphant manner. Many thanks all round.— Of late I have begun, and Jane frequently with me, to [have]1 a small portion of porridge for supper again: I do not think we ever had better oatmeal; the taste is excellent, and there is not a vestige of irregularity or impurity in it. I am happy also to report altogether well of the butter this year: how much of it remains I know not,—too little, not too much, I guess!—but it comes up daily; and has a most unexceptionable flavour, sound to the heart,—which makes us thank the salt, tho' otherwise not welcome in such a combination.

We continue in the old state of health; better today than is quite common; for last week, owing to various irregularities and annoyances round us, had been rather below par (poor Jane sleeping badly, and I not in a superior manner), till now when we have got matters put straight again, and hope to go on with the old measure of success. The weather still continues “open”; often enough rainy, never any trace of frost, but occasionally now with glimpses of bright breezy sky, which are very agreeable, and prophesy that Spring is coming by and by. The very lengthening of the days is a cheering alteration: we, in spite of all our gas-lights and shining streets, feel it such; and you, without any artificial lamps, must feel it still more. In late years they have set the Paupers to sweep our streets after every rain; flocks of these ugly gentlemen (a set of gluttonous spendthrifts mostly, of very coarse and wicked countenances) are to be seen, all about, each with his brush-besom or claut;—and the weather, this winter, has given them copious employment. They make the street all as clean as a kitchen-floor; but if rain fall, it will all be muddy again on the morrow.

My good old Mother, I can perceive, is very frail and often very poorly and ill! Alas, how can she be strong;—she has a strength in her which is wonderful. Oh, I wish I knew in any way how to help her: but I can do nothing;—I can only beg and intreat of you all, as the greatest kindness that could be done me by far, to assist her with all the strength, patience and goodness you can. As I know you do!— You will read this Note to her, I conclude; and assure her, what she already knows well enough, of my perpetual affection.—

Jamie, I think, will do well at Glasgow: if he improve his opportunities (as I hope), and be wise and diligent, there is no fear of him. Adieu, dear Isabella. Jane joins in love to you all

Your affectionate

T. Carlyle