August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 19 December 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421219-TC-JCA-01; CL 15: 240-242


Chelsea, 19 Decr, 1842—

My dear Jean,

Your Letter, a long time expected, came last week; and very glad we were to hear of you again. My scribbling gets on very ill today, and my time is nearly run; wherefore I have shoved it aside, and taken out a small sheet to scribble some line to you upon.— I find writing grow no easier to me (that is, writing of Books); but always almost the more difficult! I see too, well enough, how could be made a thousand times easier, a thousand times profitabler for the moment; but then it would only be for the moment,—wherefore, having all Eternity before one, it seems better after all to stand by the old method!

Your poor Haddington beggar-woman1 shall be welcome when she comes here; Jane may probably know her. If she have her American Son's address, it will of course be very possible to communicate with him. At all events the poor woman can have our good wishes, a morsel of victuals and a shilling. She is likely to arrive by and by, if she live.

Jack returned to Town almost a fortnight ago; he has been here two Sundays, and twice at other incidental times. He looks as well and hearty as I have seen him do for long. His life, I fancy, is very idle; the task set to him is that of being three-parts idle patiently and with high wages. I daresay it gets easier and easier: I should not wonder if he staid there a long time. There is much fine faculty lying in him, which, for want of some one very subordinate screw or other to tighten it all up into firm activity, runs risk of never coming out of him now;—which is a great pity. But one cannot help loving him, poor Doil, and being right glad at whatever good befals him.— For one thing, you are not henceforth to send his Herald2 Newspaper any more hither to me, but directly to himself, “3. Chester Terrace, Regent's Park, London”: it was so settled last Sunday night. I generally get a Herald otherwise, about Monday or Tuesday; I think, from Dr Russell of Thornhill, in return for a certain Catholic Tablet which I still send to good old Mr Dobbie (he used to read it after Mrs Welsh): this is quite enough for me; I generally despatch it very soon to Jamie at Scotsbrig: the Courier now goes on, this long while, to John Carlyle in Canada, and I suppose arrives.

The Dr does not seem to think it so likely as you that Jenny will practically think of America in Spring. The scheme is indeed very desperate; and what you can do in reason to obstruct it you ought to do: but on all sides poor Jenny has a difficult outlook,—unless she could once humble her mind to her new unexpected situation, fairly and utterly forget the worthless Windbag3 that has near ruined her, and above all begin some new independent course of exertion how humble soever. All this, I doubt, is still far from her. To me, it seems always, as if by far her likeliest course of work were that of tending, serving, and taking filial care of our good old Mother,—which would be a most grateful service to us all: to be acknowledged by us all. But I am told they do not get on well together; and that this cannot be done? I have written hinting such a thing, and how easy it were to have another house &c; but I can advise nothing positive, being so ignorant of it all. She is over at Scotsbrig just now, and all is reported well there, not many days ago.

Two o'clock has struck, dear Sister; I must dismiss you with this pitiful offput! James Stewart of Gillenbie was here lately; he is now home again. I am well, only in terrible tribulation with mere mere4 rubbish and chippings accumulating round me, and no right wall rising! Jane is under Jack's care for a seated pain in her side,—which seems to be removing. My blessings on James and all the rest of you!

Your affectionate /

T. Carlyle