1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO JANET CARLYLE HANNING; 8 April 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550408-TC-JCHA-01; CL 29: 283-285


Chelsea, 8 April, 1855

Dear Sister,

I know not if you ever saw our lamented Mother's Portrait, which was done at Dumfries a good many years ago. It hangs in my room ever since; and has been very sad but doubly precious company to me, as you may fancy, ever since the Christmas Day of 1853!— I have got Seven Copies taken of it (done by the Machine they call Photograph); and this is the one that falls to your share.1 I can well believe it will be very sad to you, dear little Sister; but sacred too, and very precious. You can easily get it framed in some modest cheap way; it may lie in the cover, secure from dust, till then.— The Birthday “30 Septr” was not quite certain: Rood-fair in the year 1771 was on the “25th of September”; and whether it was the “monday after” or “the monday before” (which would be 23d September), there was diversity of recollection.2 I myself, and I think Jemmy, inclined to think “After”; Jean thought rather the other way: so no date was put upon the Tombstone;—but perhaps you yourself have a better remembrance of what our Mother used to say on that point? Alas, we cannot settle it now;—nor is that the important thing we have lost hold of in the change that has happened to us all! But let us not lament; it is far from our part to lament; let us try rather to bless God for having had such a Mother, and to walk always while in this world as she would have prayed we might do. Amen, Amen.


There has been nothing wrong among us since the Doctor's sad loss: Jane and I, in particular, have not been worse than usual,—tho' I think it was the severest winter I ever experienced (certainly far the worst I ever saw here), and has lasted indeed almost up to this time,—“real Spring weather” being yet hardly a week old with us. Sister Jean, at Dumfries, got a bad whitlow in one of her fingers; and the thrice unlucky blockhead of a Dr. she got there, cut away three times over some white substance he saw, which proved to be the sinew (sorrow on the fool!),—so that she has now no use of her (right hand) forefinger, tho' otherwise quite recovered again! She has learned to write with the next finger; and makes no complaint.

The Doctor is here, for some time back; and I think may, likely enough, continue a while; and perhaps draw hither as his main place. He lodges only about a mile off, nearer the Town; so I see him very often, almost every day in fact. He is very quiet, patiently composed; reads Books, writes Letters, runs about,—is chiefly occupied hitherto about his late Wife's affairs, and the three Boys (from 12 to 16) whom she left, who are all three staying with him (for a week or two) just now.— Jane is pretty well, for her; & sends her kind remembrances to “little Jenny.”3 I am very busy with work, but making hardly any way in it. Give my best wishes to Robert, and the two little lasses whom I remember so well.4 Send me your own Address (without “Gunn” &c in it)5 when you write next. And fare right well dear Sister Jenny. I am ever,—Your affecte Brother,— T. Carlyle