The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 10 September 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400910-TC-AC-01; CL 12: 246-248


Chelsea, 10 Septr, [184]0—

My dear Brother,

It was “the toss of a halfpenny” whether I had not been with you at this point of time, instead of only writing still from my old place that I am not now to come! On Monday and Tuesday, all my bits of business being now either done or cast aside, I meditated strongly whether I should not take some Steamer or Railway and be off. But the weather is fallen rainy, little more good weather to be looked for now, so far as travelling goes; I count how I shall be brashed [shaken] and smashed, getting or giving so much sorrow among my pleasure:—in brief, with a very wae heart, I resolve that I shall recruit myself better here than I have a chance to do elsewhere at such a season, and so ought to renounce the hope of seeing you this year. It is very sad to me: but what can I do? The miserable irritation of health that I live in renders me the worst of travellers. I think it will be better really to content myself here; and save all the cash I can fo[r a] wh[ole sum]mer of country life next year,—somewhere within reach of you, I hope. I mean this, if I live, if I can get a house; nay I almost think I will go to Puttoch itself, and live like a Moss cheeper [meadow pipit], rather than want silence and free air for another summer of my life! I decidedly do mean to be off, in this way or some way [ere] another June sun were here. However, it is needless talking of that y[et] I must do it myself, for the necessity is my o[wn.] I surely can also do it! If I could get some cheap house or cottage by the sea shore, it would be all right. I will take timely measures to get one. Puttoch at any rate could be cleared of Corson:1 one can get fresh air;—and one will!

My plan, at present, however, leads to the reading of all manner of Books; I have got that to do, with an eye to another Book I am going to write.2 It is a great blessing to me that some kind of Book does begin to dawn as a possibility again in my head. There is no other use in living that I can find except working wisely; and that is my work. It will require a great deal of reading first: then I think, next summer if we live to see it, I shall get away into the country to write. My Book is to be about——— But, indeed I had better not yet tell anybody, lest the whole pla[n of] it go! You will hear duly by and by.

My [Lecture]s, [I s]uppose, will have to be printed very soon. I [nee]d not keep them here now that they are written. If Fraser were not out of Town for a fortnight, perhaps we should have made a bargain before now, and have had the thing at press: indeed this was one of my reasons for staying here at present and not travelling.

But to say Truth, travelling into t[he] count[ry a]t this brown dim failing season seems to me, tho' universally p[ursu]ed in this London, to be of all absurdities among the absurdest. London is decidedly pleasant enough at present as to weather; in rain, it is far beyond any kind of country; in sunshine it is never disagreeable for heat. A hot dry June again in these streets strikes me as the nearest approach, so far as weather goes, to—a place we will not name! Well, the people quietly continue to be baked all June, and now when the country is growing unpleasant and the town the reverse, they rush all out into the country! Wise that they are! But indeed it all comes to the partridges; they never reflect on this. The gentry need partridges to shoot; their wives &c have to go with them; all lawyers, traders, men of business can now best follow. Therefore from August till March is the season for the country. The partridges rule them all.3 They shall not rule me.

Dear Brother, I am writing in the most confused manner. I have sat all morning reading one of my [Books]; I am not well either,—I have been out of order all week, [but d]aily getting better as I keep quiet. But I determined not to let this day go again without a word from me. You must tell my dear good Mother. It will make her wae: but tell her we will live in hope; we will count that a better day is coming[. I wi]ll [wr]ite to her myself one of these days.

Ah me, [if] I had a long prospect-glass, one of the places I would peep at were Scotsbrig and that region, to see how all is going on there! I fancy the harvest to be going forward: Jamie, I hope, is not getting drowned and wasted this season again.— I know not how you yourself go on, my dear Brother: do you ever yet “take stock” as the Merchants call it, and see decisively what progress you have? It seems impertinent to be advising you so often on this matter; but I ha[ve] the greatest faith in good order as the beginning of all good and prosperity in all things whatsoever. I wish you would write to me minutely how you manage and are. Do not repine, my dear Brother, do not waste yourself away with regrets and discontents more than are unavoidable. Alas, we have all our heavy burden to bear: it is a fact also, true as the God of Truth, that we bear it well, it shall be well with us! Courage!——— I commend myself heartily, in unchang[abl]e affection, to all of you. My blessings on the youngest-born, [its] Name4 you never told me,—tho' I did once know [it, I] now do not. I will write to my Mother in a few days. Jack still at Oban without news. Jane is out driving; very well.

Ever your affectionate / T. Carlyle