The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 26 June 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400626-TC-AC-01; CL 12: 173-176


Chelsea, 25 [26] June, 1840

My dear Alick,

I will snatch up this little half hour I have, and send you a word, in discharge of my long debt to you. In these days I am so busy, and so lame for any kind of work not forced upon me, especially for any writing work!

I am within about a day of ending my Second Lecture; then we had a Public Meeting about our London Library this week; and people come in and take me up: very busy indeed! But I ought to fling you a word too, at short intervals, to say how it stands with me.

What will become of these Lectures I do not yet know; nor whether in the written state they are worth much: however, I write them, you see. It is a kind of ungainly job, and I am not very fit for it; yet it ought to be done, I think, some way or other. I will have a day or two of play again, were this Second Lecture done; we shall then consider farther.

Our Public Meeting, at which I had to make a speech, was considered to have gone off beautifully. I did not speak long; but kept the people all in first-rate spirits while I did speak. I am told there is a good report of the business in the Morning Chronicle of yesterday: I sent out this morning to get it; but the unfortunate Newsvender had it net, and in this huge whirlpool if you do not take a paper on the day of its coming out, nobody has it afterwards; it is gone, and only by mere chance can you get it at all! If I do find a copy, I will send it to you. We had “noble lords,” and what not, a very fair turn out of people;1 it is thought our Library will actually get itself established by and by: a thing pressingly wanted here.

Jack now dates from Oban; I had another line from him today; it contains little except an address I am to put on some Books for him; I will keep it, and send you the prior one. All is well with him; but he still talks of quitting the business in August.

How are Jenny and the little Newcomer?2 Jean, from whom I had a Note the other day, mentions that our Mother is “somewhat out of sorts”: I wish I heard something more about that! She was expected to write to Jean, and Jean was to send the Letter; but nothing as yet comes. I hope she is getting round again; I will not let myself get into fear.— Jamie's cattle were mislucking, Jean said; her own little child was not thriving: many things were more or less out of joint. I know Jean always tells me the worst, the truth whatever it may be. That is a comfort.

Our weather is far from too warm here; these two days we have a Northwind, which has driven Jane to light her fire again. Frequent rains fall; it is in general a delightful London June for me. I still ride daily almost, in the country far oftenest: my unfortunate liver ought to be better than it is!

In my Mother's Letter I mentioned that the tobacco was all spoiling on me. In truth, it seemed all spoiled, when I broke into the jars the other day: I had taken out the whole mouldy part some weeks before, dried the remainder, packed it quite loose and set it by; I had smoked diligently to get thro' the damaged portion, and now went to rejoice in the sound,—when, lo, this too was become mouldy, and had a taste and smell altogether wretched! I thought I should have to send it back, not knowing what to do with it here. But after being spread out for a week and thoroughly dried, it has improved not a little, and can be smoked now without difficulty; indeed it is better yet than any I know how to buy here. I have spread it loose in a broad open box, and hope to keep it without farther damage.— I was very much vexed, and wae, not for the loss of the weed, but to think how my poor brother had done all he could, and taken such pains to serve me in this; and it was all to be a failure! Yet I liked you better, it made it sadder and kindlier, even because it had failed, and gone all for nothing.— Happily it turns out not so bad, however. I believe the Tobacco to have been perfectly good at first; but very wet, and we did not know how to keep it in hot weather. It should have been left loose, loose, and not excluded from the air. We will ken [know] again! I find also that all tobacco ought to be of a certain age. None I ever get, even of the best sort, is like that I used to get from your shop,—when it could gain nothing except increase of age.—

Jack in that Letter speaks of travelling! He has always schemes of locomotion. I know not what I shall do: I am at work here; must work; and the weather does not as yet obstruct me. There is no good raiking [wandering] if one can help it.

Will you tell Jamie that I consider myself a Letter in his debt: I deeply sympathize about poor Tom, which I suppose is the misfortune he cares about beyond all: but the child will perhaps get round again; one must have patience, have hope.— Jean, I think, ought to go to Mary's with her child, for a little sea air.— Let my Mother write half a word with her own hand!

Take my best blessing one and all of you.

Your affectionate Brother

T. Carlyle—