July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 9 July 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470709-TC-JCA-01; CL 22: 11-12


Chelsea, 9 july, 1847—

Dear Jean,—As I am a living sinner, I have forgotten poor Mary Grier1 and what you said of her, altogether, till this morning, when she came accidentally into my head again! Here is a trifle for the poor old body; whom it is much my part to assist if I can. Be sure you do not neglect to tell me, on another occasion: you are probably the wisest counseller she has, and know best what is really good for her. Nota bene, the Goodman, not you, is to sign for the Post-Office order.

It is after dinner; I am weary, and can hardly keep my eyes open. I am very busy, these few days, with an Index to the F. Revolution: I employed a poor man to do it long ago; 2 and now the Printer wants his Proof of it corrected: a horrible job, for the poor Index-maker has understood nothing, tho' doing his very best, poor blockhead. The Book, however, will be much improved by it.— I hope the Parcel arrived safe? You would send little Ferguson &c what was due.3

I am still stationary here; not very definitely looking to any outrake [excursion] for the Autumn, or to anything else but keeping quiet. We have delightful summer, the best I ever saw here; and with the wind westerly, Chelsea is clear as diamonds; I often think, the Town will be quiet in a week or two now; might I not stay at home, and have more repose than I could look for anywhere else? Various people invite me to places a few hours off, where I am to “have great freedom” &c: but I have not yet resolved on stirring towards any of them. Jane seems to decide that she, for her part, will sit still. As for me, we shall see.— Jack, I imagine, will be with you before long: he is just getting his Printers started; and could then go on at a distance, almost as well as near.

Does James care about having his Newspaper sooner? By taking the earliest edition, I think he might get it on Saturday afternoon at Dumfries. For my own share, I find it an exceeding dud, and having two others to read on Saturdays, I could as well have it sent off direct as not. If you then sent it on to my Mother, it would still be all the same to me. Jerrold is a poor carping, grinning, insignificant little snaffle, himself: but his Paper is the biggest and most copious for news. Indeed I am not sure but James would like the Examiner4 much better: by a little arrangement, they could send it from Scotsbrig, I suppose, or you could thither?— On the whole, let us stand by the present plan till we meet, and can talk the matter over.

The “season” is about ending here; but seems to grow only madder as it gets older. All people are rushing after a little Swedish woman, an Opera Singer, called Jenny Lind: £40 is the price of a box (4 sittings) for one night, in some cases! I saw Jenny, one day; dined with her, and had to speak French to her all dinner,5—a nice little, innocent, clear, thin “bit lassie”; somewhat like a douce [respectable] minister's daughter; sense enough too:—but my notion was that I could easily raise fifty women with much more sense (one in Dumfries with twice as much perhaps); and that as to singing, with such a shrew of a voice,—I would not give £10, or hardly 10 pence, to hear Jenny!— And now next there has come another Danish ass (one Andersen), a Jack not a Jenny; “Andersen forever and ever!”—him I flatly refused to see. 6 People really ought to subscribe to Hudson's Statue, and believe in Bishop Philpots:7 they are fools, almost all!— Adieu dear Jean. Here is a man come in; and my Paper too is out. Ever your

T. Carlyle