The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 25 August 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400825-TC-JCA-01; CL 12: 233-234


Chelsea, 25 August, 1840—

My dear Jean,

You have just cause to think yourself unhandsomely dealt with by me!1 Why do I never send you a word since you wrote? Not one pennyworth of Postage-stamp, a few minutes of my time, and “Dear Jean. How do you do?”— Well; I will learn to do better by and by! I will learn to send off Letters containing the bare statement of the needful; there will never be plenty of Letters till then.— Alas, I am kept in such a fuss of w[rit]ing (as trade) every day; and then at the ti[me] when I am not either writing or walking, there is such a stupidity and sick laziness possesses me, I positively cannot stir my finger. Today, for example, it is after dinner; I have written three pages, and walked to Hyde Park, in the moothest [most humid] sultry weather: I write at present with the feeling that there is no man in Middlesex—with a greater desire to sleep than I! Take a word from me therefore, dear Sister, and think it is all I can give today.

I have finished my Fifth Lecture, and fairly begun the Sixth. At the rate that proceeds at, it cannot last much longer than eight days; for when I once get rightly ill, the writing goes along like fire well kindled. I will finish these beggarly Lectures, then, and have them off my hand. After which I seriously think of taking myself away somewhither, for a week or two; northward, this time, likeliest of all. That is the essential thing to tell you. I really have some hope now to get into the Solway or some other honest piece of Sea again:—ah me! The good Thomas Erskine asks me to Dundeed [sic], whither we have excellent steamers: once there, I am as good as beside you.

All people have gone out of Town; a universal painting, papering and plastering goes on everywhere; and the weather is baking hot: a dirty close baking weather; eminently unpleasant to me anywhere, here worst of all. I parted with my Horse two weeks ago and more; it is to be sold, is not yet sold. I do not regret the want of it; I was tired of daily riding at such a cost. My plans, in short, extend to the length of terminating this Lecture. After that, we shall see what plans.

I wrote to Jack; to my Mother,—charg[ing] her withal to send you some word of me. But indeed her Letter was no better than this; she will have, as it were, nothing to send.

Jane determines to continue where she is; she likes this Oven-Babylon; which is much more than I do. But indeed what place do I like? All places, to such a sick wretch, are more or less afflicting. I shall find no right place, as I calculate always till—!— The Doctor continues at Oban; he does not yet say for how long. Neither do I now know on what terms he continues, whether on the old or on some new arrangement. He has a capital salary, I guess; and seems now growing rather to like his Patient.

If James is as busy as the people are here, he has nothing to complain of in respect of that! But London is here, Dumfries is there. About ten fiddles seem to be playing round me, the cackle and squealing of a thousand children, the hammering near and far of many grown people and horses! Pity me.— Take the little Bairn to the Sea again. I have returned the American Letter.2 Yours ever affectionately

T. Carlyle