August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 12 November 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18431112-TC-JCA-01; CL 17: 169-171


Chelsea, 12 Novr, 1843—

Dear Jean,

I surely owe you a word; I will send you a word even now, tho' a short one!

Your Letter to Alick was duly addressed and forwarded: the complete address is: “Alton, Wayne County, State of New York,” and you have to hand it in to the Postmaster, and pay him some trifle for it. I also delivered Jack his Letter; his Address is: “6. Brompton Row, Brompton, London.”1 But if you forget anything at any time, and think I remember it,—of course, why not apply to me! It is a “small request.”

Since the despatch of Alick's Letter, indeed yesterday morning, no farther gone, there has come to me a Letter from Alick himself, dated 13th Octr, and I think not posted till about the 17th. It is a long full Letter; I at first had thoughts of sending it straight off to you, but considered that Scotsbrig and our Mother had the real right to the first chance of it; so after an inspection from Jack it was sent off thither, with injunction to be straightway forwarded to you; accordingly you are like to have it in the course of the week,—then they at Gill will like to see it: after which it can come to Chelsea again, that we may more deliberately inspect it. My thought of our Mother's anxiety made me perhaps too impatient: the Letter is at Ecclefechan this (Sunday) evening; but probably they have small chance to get it for a day or two.

Alick's best piece of news is that he has entirely renounced whisky; may the Heavens grant it altogether literally true! In other respects he does not seem to be making much definite progress as yet, but is only inquiring in what direction he shall try it. Of course in every direction there are difficulties, and each too has its special conveniences: a most confused account to settle! He has had a disagreeable lameness in his foot; but is now better. Jenny and one of the lassies (Jessie, I think) were lying ill of fever-and-ague at his return from Canada,—poor creatures! They are now, he seems to say, in a distinct state of recovery. “The people there think nothing of the disease.” He sees Clow almost every night. He— But you will see the Letter yourself; I need not occupy more of this poor paper with it.

My health here is not bad; is better than when you saw me: all other things too are well enough—but my work, my work! I am floundering on the oustide of my poor work, and cannot yet for my life get into it! I shall just have to keep floundering and boring till I do get at it; there is no other course. But in the meanwhile I am very unhappy; I cannot write Letters, or do any thing, but go gloomily about, and “work aye maistly in a place by mysel'!”2— You must just excuse me, dear friends, till the better days come.—

Jack was here the other night, and since that I met him at the Library3 and he is to be here again this evening. He looks very lively; seems busy reading &c, and flies extensively about: he is well lodged,—and will come to some result by and by, we hope.——— Jane has not got her Dumfries present yet; the young woman Grierson was to bring it down some day, and is still expected. Jane pronounced her to be “immensely improved” since she first appeared in London, and really a sensible useful looking young person.4— Adieu, dear Jean; good be with James & you and all that is yours. I will scribble you a word now and then in spite of my confusions. I am ever Your affectionate T. Carlyle

The adjacent Piano has been got regulated, put under conditions. Nay I have a nice little closet now, 7 feet square, with a fireplace in it, about the size of a saucepan, where I can write on occasion, silent from all pianos, and street noises. I am now in it.