April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 27 July 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480727-TC-JCA-01; CL 23: 78-80


Chelsea, 27 july, 1848—

Dear Jean,

Many thanks for your prompt, copious and authentic Intelligence: you give us a glimpse into the interior movement of things; and one sees, at first hand, how the springs work! I am sorry you have still to report of Mary1 that she looks so dowie [sad], weary and dispirited: poor thing, she has always looked to me so, when I have seen her, of late years. Weary and heavy-laden, but without complaint. If it was mere overplus of work, one would hope that the girls, as they came up, might be expected to give her some relief. But I fear, it is bad health as well; she has serious ailments, I suspect, constantly working upon her, either in a declared or secret manner; and that much undermines the spirits. Poor Mary, if any of us could do anything to help her, surely we ought, for she herself had a right kind heart to us all, and I am sure still has, tho' years and troubles and toil have darkened it more than formerly.— — We had heard from Isabella before your letter came: all still well at Scotsbrig, which surely is a matter to rejoice at. Jenny, cut off from her Town coteries, had arrived safe there, or was hourly expected: poor Jenny, it is very well she can get into some companionship with her “professing Christian” neighbours: be patient with her little ways, and do her all the good you by any means can. It is certainly no charity to encourage her recollections of past times and vanished scoundrels:2 yet one must not forget that her poor little lot has been very sad,—that a human soul doomed to hang upon a wretched mass of gluttonous Falsity, like that worthless vagabond, is tragically situated! Let us try to bear any corner of her bit burden, poor little Jenny, each of us according to opportunity.

However, I meant only today to write about “the House.” What house it is on the Troqueer side, I cannot at all remember: was it near the Kirk, or towards the Mill? All that Bank looks always very pleasant to me; and many of the houses, I dare say, are desirable.3— Alas, I doubt it is not much worth while for James to take a deal of trouble about that house: yet if he could give me some outline of an account concerning it: the number of rooms with dimensions, state of the walls, roof, little field; and then in brief what he thinks the minimum price might be, I should really be obliged. A house to fly to on occasion, in some part of the country or other would surely be very serviceable to myself, and if it suited our good old Mother too, and were “worth the money” besides all,—it would certainly be a temptation. Pray let him answer me about it a little.— By the way there are no strokes on the Newspaper cover today; but that, I hope, means only, He was in haste?—— — The Doctor continues toiling at his task; “very nearly done now,” yet never quite done. He is in great haste, whenever we see him, either here or at his own rooms: I think he will surely get to you in a fortnight or so (most men would finish his work out in two days!);—and certainly it will do him much good to get the shoes torn off him and be turned in to Annandale grass again for a while!

Jane is still feckless, eating very little; and the weather is so showery she cannot rightly get out for exercise either. She joins in salutations to you all. Your affectionate

T. Carlyle

Poor Smith4 appears to have [a] heavy burden: but he ought to console himself reflecting that it is the common lot; that mere “hard work” is of all hard kinds of fortune the gentlest,—and turns most rea[d]ily to profit if well done. I return his Letter, and wish him well.