The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 31 December 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18531231-TC-LA-01; CL 28: 369-370


Scotsbrig, 31 decr, 1853—

Dear Friend,

Your image has often enough been present with me here, amid the sad scenes now ended; and I will not let this memorable Week close without writing one other word to you.

All is now concluded; I come to Chelsea on Monday night; there to con as I may the stern and solemn lesson I have got. I feel as if a new epoch had begun for me; the final one,—which it would well behove me to spend in a way worthier of the dead and of the living in whom I have the privilege to be interested. I have been and am very sad; but often, when left quite alone, not so miserable as I was wont.

Today they all go away, except one Brother who resides here: the latter half of this day, and the whole of tomorrow, I expect to spend nearly alone; which is in general the best method. We have iron frost, with a powdering of snow, the very snow jingling as one stirs it; skies as bright as diamond, and today no audible wind, only a silent steady current from the North,—silence, brightness everywhere as of Eternity. I have great satisfaction in thinking of my Mother's last two days in this world, and of all her days here: a noble patriarchal dignity, far beyond that of Queens (who are only queens), a perfect veracity, a beautiful simple courage, intelligence, and natural propriety and generosity characterised all her life, and were still singularly conspicuous (worn now, as it were, to a very thread, but still the same in physiognomy) to the very end. God make me thankful for such a Mother; and teach me to be worthier of her, while my pilgrimage still lasts.

You were in this, as in all things you have been, very good to me, dear Lady; and it is a sign how much I esteem the intrinsic noble Self of you that I address you so from these scenes, in these hours. I know not well when we shall meet,—to speak again a few obstructed words. But I do value even that as I must and ought; and at all times my heart's best prayers are for blessings on you. Adieu today.— Yours ever T. Carlyle