The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 27 June 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530627-TC-JAC-01; CL 28: 178-179


Chelsea, 27 june, 1853—

My dear Brother,

I got your last Letter duly; and, as you may believe, it has been often in my thoughts since. Alas, alas! The thing that I have feared, all my life ever since consciousness arose in me, is now inevitably not distant. I gather, from your softened expressions, how very weak my poor Mother is; how unlikely you think it that she shall be spared to us much longer. No sterner thought ever fixed itself in my mind;—there it dwells ever since your Letter: and why should I attempt to put it away! The Past is now all that we have; in the Future there can be rationally no store of hope for us. Ah me, ah me!— — Really one of my chief comforts at present is the thought that you are near my good and dear old Mother; that nothing which can be done for her solace and alleviation is or will be omitted by you. I am very weak here, far away, and as good as able to do nothing. I calculate that, if I live much longer, I shall weep once more in this world, and probably but once, however long I live! But we must not dwell on that either; we must take the blessed and heavenly element along with us that lies in this sadness too; and, on the whole, “trust in God,” as our dear Mother herself would say,—even so, “trust in God” for all that lies ahead of us in Time, and in the Eternities that are beyond Time.— — I will write no more at present in that sad strain.

My work here is in the most untowardly unmanageable condition, and makes no way at all; waits till sufficient strength return to me to grapple it and crush it down into obedience to me,—or failing that, till sufficient indignation accumulate to produce a spasm of the right kind in what “strength” I have! I was never yet quite beaten; and shall not willingly submit to be so, this time either. In fact, there is great store of dross in me; that I believe is really the meaning of most of this wretchedness; and that must be burnt out of me (even for my own objects) by such methods as there are. Methods are not wanting! Hardly in my lifetime have I felt lower, lonelier, weaker, or been in fact in poorer bodily health, than during the last year. I do begin, at bottom, to feel sometimes a little clearer and as it were better,—simply by dint of waiting in silence. “Some work,” I know farther, is my only remedy. I am in hopes, when left entirely alone, I may make a little better progress in my enterprises. To seek repose by “travelling”—my soul shudders at the thought when I recollect what travelling was last year and indeed has always been to me. The noises &c are bad here when my nerves get below par; but what are they in other foreign places, where myself and my ways are an extraneous interpolation in those of other mortals! Let the sick man lie in his own bed, at home, such as his home is!—

We have dim damp weather, which is very agreeable to me, and has a temperature soft as silk: no fresher grey wind can blow anywhere than this that is now shaking my windows,—in the front upstairs bedroom, which is now really quite a neat and pretty place: I am banished hither, for a week past, by the Painter people, who I hope are now departing forevermore. I live very much alone, as much as I can contrive: few people's speech does me any good at all; mischief rather, and it is better to avoid that. This morning, however, I went to breakfast with Lord Mahon: he asks me once a year; and this I think is the third year since I have gone; and once this year I had refused already, so there was no help! We found Hallam (dullest of mortals), Lord Granville, and some French and Yankee specimens &c: “all very well, all very well!” and my headache is not so bad as it might have been. On Thursday last withal we dined at the Fergus's,—Elizth Pepoli having just come from Bologna:—a trivial little Moncrief Lord-Advocate,1 and a young Lady who never spoke were the only foreign elements: and such an atmosphere (four or five oil-lamps burning, and every door and window shut) I do not wish to experience again for some time! Cui bono [for whose good], cui bono?

Jane is on the eve of going off to you; will go this week, she says; day not fixed: I guess towards the end of the week; but she is out just now, and has not said precisely,—but doubtless will tell you in time. Poor little soul, she too is far from well; but you will take good care of her at Moffat; and the excursion bids fair really to do her good.— — Adieu, dear Brother. Perhaps a Letter will come from you this very night? At all events I shall have a word soon. With love to Sister Phoebe,

Yours ever affectionately

T. Carlyle