The Collected Letters, Volume 11


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 27 May 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390527-TC-JCA-01; CL 11: 114-117


Chelsea, 27th May, 1839—

My dear Sister,

Having a Letter from John, which perhaps you were not expecting as the last came so recently, I have got a frank to forward it to you at Dumfries: perhaps you may be able to get it forwarded to Annandale directly on the Wednesday; at all events you will find some opportunity soon, and there is, this time, no very breakneck hurry with it.

I have written so often and copiously of late that I suppose you all well acquainted with my news; nay indeed the very Newspapers have given you notice enough of me. The Lectures, thank Heaven, are over, in a very tolerable sort of way; and have left me bilious indeed, yet not nearly in so wrecked a state as the last two years. My nerves are quiter [sic];—ah, I was in a frightful ferment on those two last occasions; half out of my wits, with fret, ex[c]itation, toil and misery! I begin to have the feeling of a sane man now again.

James's cunning blot of ink over the Puttoch larch-cuttings did not escape me; I am very glad to think the poor woods have actually got air now, and are put into a reasonable [sic].1 I am very much obliged to James for his punctuality, for all the trouble he takes to serve me. I suppose this is his busiest season too; in which he has very little time to spare from his own affairs. He was from home when the last Courier came off, I think: the writing seemed not to be his but Thomas Carlyle's.2

Mrs Welsh still remains at Liverpool; not very well in health, tho' decidedly getting better: her passage was once taken in the Steamer, or about to be taken; when on the day of sailing she grew suddenly rather ill. We have a considerable notion here of removing bodily to Templand this summer for a month or two: warm weather has come back this morning; such weather as would very soon make London too hot for me as one individual! But I have partly undertaken to write a Review Article the next thing I do, on the State of the Working People, and tho' I could write it in the country, I must have books gathered and settlements made respecting it, before I quit town.— This time of the year is precisely the heyday of London. Perhaps 100,000 additional people crowd into it, in May and June, from all parts of England and the world. The Religious people hold meetings incessantly; the fashionable people dine and dance; the &c &c: in short it is one enormous beehive of human creatures, all buzzing their loudest in the burning weather; and so they buz—till about the end of July all of them are nearly dead with waste and weariness, and glad to fly into the country and hide themselves—as dull as ditchwater! I do not admire their ways of proceeding at all.

Alick's news of his having bought a Horse for us, of his being about to buy a Gig, was very surprising. I have written to Jack this very day to apprise him how it stands, to thank the good soul for his kindness in it. I think it likeliest that we shall go to Templand, and that before long: in which case no article whatever could be more essential for me than a horse to ride. With this, and a Gig to drive the Wife to and fro in, one would be well provided for in rusticating. The country hereabouts, so long as there falls rain enough, is among the beautifullest I ever saw; an ocean of wavy greenness,—quite blessed to get into out of the dust-whirlpool: the only thing one wants is the clear-gushing streams, with their music, which never fail us in the North;— here there are nothing but drab-coloured ditches instead. It is a beautiful country: but to me no country is or can be equal to my own, for tarrying in. I hope to write before long, telling you that we are positively coming, and when. Jack, I expect, will be for some German expedition for me in his next Letter; and that too of course has its recommendations to me; but I do not think it can really take effect this year. Nay they seem to be in considerable trouble and sickness themselves, and one knows not what their own arrangements will be.

We go on with our printing as zealously as may be, the printer-men often flying off, as their wont is, into drink. Besides they tell me they have broken their steam-engine! In a word, it is very clear they will not have done, as they promised, at the end of June; we may give them till the end of July, I apprehend. I will not wait here a day for them. The Americans write to me that they even now want 500 new copies, which is just the number I had by guess assigned them. We print 2,000 copies in all; 1500 of them for England: I make few or no changes. The Miscellanies are coming in two divisions; the first must have been at sea since the end of April, and ought to be near these shores now; the second (that is, volumes 3d and 4th) were to be a month later. Fraser advises not to begin the sale at all till the whole arrive; in which judgement I agree.

Jenny of Manchester will come up to see you, doubtless: she is well out of the huge spinning-mill in this bright weather, and should stay as long as she possibly can. I received an old Newspaper from Alick today, indicating that my last letter had come safely. Nothing has given me more satisfaction for a long time than to hear and perceive that Alick was prospering in his place yonder. Let him keep his shop, and his shop will keep him. Poor Dillick, he has had a good deal of beating about for many a year now: but, as the Proverb says, “it is a long lane that has no turn.”— Jane is pretty well in general, and indeed fears nothing in warm weather: however, today she is a little out of order; and can only send you her love (she says) without writing anything. My Mother was well when she wrote,—good news always. Isabella too seems to be fast getting round. I infer that there is no Farm yet for Austin and Mary: they must be patient; a time is coming.— Are your two Bairns in good order? Especially that devil's-limb who has such an eye for colours and paintings?3 With whom I have a crow to pluck yet!— Good b'ye, dear Jean!

Your affectionate Brother /

T. Carlyle