The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 28 November 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18531128-TC-JAC-01; CL 28: 325-327


Chelsea, 28 Novr, 1853—

My dear Brother,

You are very good in writing to me so punctually about my poor dear Mother, and the sad pathetic scene there is at Scotsbrig.1 I got both your Letters, and am much obliged,—and satisfied to know what the exact state of things is so far as you can judge or describe it. Alas, alas, it is even as you say: the good Mother is going from us; we cannot with all our art and prayers make her stay with us; and a sad and stern parting is coming on. It may be near, as I always say; it cannot be very distant! The thought of it never quits me; hangs like a black solemn pall over my mind and all the other miseries, mean miseries they, while this is great and high, that are in it. Yesterday morning I was in great distress about your Note, and quite embarrassed with the question whether I ought not to come off to Annandale immediately instead of to the Grange. “Gaieties” of any kind are far enough from what I want at present!— After much consultation with Jane, who did not like to advise, but could not refuse what her experience, later than mine, suggested to her upon Annandale,—our opinion rather was that I must wait for a new Letter from you; and this morning it is that I must still wait, and be at your bidding, and in the meanwhile go on with my engagement here. We are likely to be “dull” enough, as she said, at The Grange (Henry Taylor &c &c): and I have farther bargained with our Hosts that I am to be private all the forenoon, and to try to go on with my work (so-called) as I am doing here. That is how it stands at present: we are to go on monday, if no farther warning be given. The Painters &c are all coming to finish off: and by Christmas, the undertaking is, they shall have finished, and be fairly gone, all but the Paperhangers in spring for one day— If I could expect to be quiet then— But alas I fear, my room is irremediably somewhat of a failure; and that “quiet” is far off me yet! But we will not despair either; we will try many shifts before despairing.

I have no news here; I see very few people, and from those few very seldom get much but fash and ennui. Work alone has, in the least degree, some comfort for me; and, alas, I get terribly ill on with work. It is the old story: All the world (and the Devil) versus one weak man: they tumble him about, & trample him in the mud, at a sad rate! Let him stand to himself, the silly fellow; that is the one chance for him.

Miss Martineau and the Darwin set were here one night:2 very wearisome is Harriet, tho' very happy; victorious still over all ills and infirmities that beset other mortals;—translating Comte, or some windy French Prophet of the New Epoch; 3—for the rest, grown fat and old. She “had a message” for me, two messages, of which I heard only one. This, namely, that a certain Mr (Hunt, I think), Editor of the Daily News, “an able and I think a very [wise]4 man, wants to see you; and lives at”— — “But I don't in the least want to see him, for my own sake; and I live here!” whereupon Harriet held in the other message; and we missed the able and the very wise man, for the present. Neuberg was here another night; almost lost among the fog.— Today, in the last place, Maurice entered; escorting one of the Sterling girls! He looks very fidgety, alarmed, and unhappy; but we got him comforted a little; and he went away in a more trustful humour. They say, it is not impossible he may lose his Lincoln's-Inn Preaching too;5 he is decided to give it up if even one object to him. Poor Maurice, he has twisted and struggled at a great rate to be a Churchman; and now the Church throws him out. Perhaps it would be better if she did once for all send him gently out of doors; saying, “No, you are not of mine!”—and he answering, “No, indeed!”— — His course is not out yet by any means.

But I must go, Dear Brother; I have written far more than is needful;—and the dark twilight (fog & rain) is falling down. Give my best regards to Phoebe; and keep her well screened against the bad weather. Four striking! I must go.— — Bell of Craigenputtoch, some fortnight ago, sent us 3 brace of grouse from his moors; which was a very spirited transaction,— excellent birds too. I sent him a miniature Allen Ramsay and my two Railway Pamphlets. That is his answer today.

Adieu dear Brother. I remain, expecting soon to hear again (and anxious enough as to what it will be)

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle