The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 23 December 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18531223-TC-JWC-01; CL 28: 346-347


Scotsbrig, 23 decr, 1853—

My dear Jeannie,

I have got here safe; and after many misgivings, find my poor old mother still in life, still able to recognise me with a gleam of faint joy,—a thing for which I heartily thank God.— The poor old Mother, she seems to have had yesterday some kind of crisis, or long fainting-fit, and is rallied in some slight degree today. But Weakness itself could be no weaker: a more spent creature I never beheld. I burst into tears at sight of her. Her hand is cold and slightly swollen; she lies half asleep; brings up from time to time a little phlegm, which Jean has to clear away, asks for a sip of water; at times is sickly, and her mind wandering. Alas, alas, sinking in the turbid waters; sinking towards Eternity.

John is here, and full of bustling activity and kindness;1 Jean, poor soul, is quite worn down, but seems to be unweariable in affectionate nursing. There are bricklayers from Carlisle in the kitchen; the grate, oven and fireplace all lying topsy turvy. I am, at present, in the East room, which Isabella has in a very tidy state,—not warm, in spite of a strong fire. I mean to try for a little sleep, were this line despatched: I got no sleep, but also no mischance or inconveniences in the long swift nocturnal transit; maintained fresh air by a window of my own; suffered nothing from cold; have only a dull heavy headache (which breakfast has not removed); and shall probably sleep it away,—at least, if night were come. My mother spoke of “Jane,” some indistinct but kind whisper, when she first saw me.— This seems to be all I need say today.

You have done the Roncas I hope; for they seemed to be under the screw somehow, and you were not the hand to be soft with them in that case. A strictly imprisoned Macaw, poultry boiled all into quiescent soup,—and a hint too about the noisy drawingroom might perhaps not be improper? Do your best; I know you will. £5 or £50, really at either price it is cheap to have done with them! Adieu, Dearest T. Carlyle