April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 21 April 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490421-TC-JCA-01; CL 24: 34-36


Chelsea, 21 April, 1849—

My dear Sister,

I have been very remiss in writing; and have true reason for remorse,

now when I see what apprehensions my delay has given rise to! “Offense?” O Heaven, not at all, at all: you never gave me any “offense”; quite the reverse was what poor Crow1 always gave me, since her first appearance in this world,—a sunny sunday which I still recollect very well! Never dream of such a thing as that. But the fact is, I had somehow passed my tide in this matter; and tho' frequently reminding myself of it, I fancied you yourself would perhaps write first, or that perhaps &c &c,—in short the thing was put off from day to day; and this is the first day on which so simple a thing is actually done. After all, I believe it was your blame principally, Missus. Did I not send a Westminster Review by post, while you were at Gill, just before quitting it, I think? In that Westminster Review were two pages (about poor Charles Buller),2 on the margin of which I had marked that you were to cut them out and send them to me, as I had no other copy: you never sent them;—you never read the Review at all, that is the fact! It was addressed to James;3 it could not, I think, fail to arrive? I put it into the Post-Office myself. That is the prime origin of all these dim delays! Which now have at last happily ended.

But indeed these many months, and years, I have been growing lazier and lazier as a correspondent; not writing to almost anybody at all except my Mother, when I could anyway help it. My internal affairs are not in a sunny or flowery condition, any more than they have ever been; nay, what with one thing what with another, the old remedy for all my sorrows, hard work, has been as it were impossible to me: trying many things, I have got none yet that I could fairly kindle upon; so that silence really is the natural state, in some measure, for an animal so situated. The thing I want to utter is abundantly plain to me: but, alas, the means of doing it? I shall never discover the “means” till I get so miserable that some means must be discovered. That is the “nature of the beast”: heigho,—so we must just hold on, and keep trying, keep hoping!

Did they send you from Scotsbrig a Newspaper with an Article of mine in it, this week? A fierce Article on Ireland; fiercely demanding that Peel should have a fly at it,—that at least Lord John, and his “waik [weak] squad” should give it up forever! This is the only word I have uttered for a long while: a word prompted by real conscience on my part; and to which, I see, the world is really like responding a little. Russell, it is conjectured everywhere, has got upon the slide; all creatures are called to soap the course for him, and get him down and out of sight as soon as the Fates permit!— I really ought to stick to my paper; and work away till I get heated: part of my big monstrous meaning, which every body would be apt to shriek over, might then perhaps be got uttered soon!—

Jack has said nothing to us about his journey to Scotland; I suppose he will wait for the green leaf: he seems wonderfully happy here; reading all manner of Dante matters, talking, calling &c,—has not begun any more work of translation yet. This Book has done him real good every way.— They are printing the 3d editn of Cromwell; nearly thro' the first volume; there are to be 4 volumes this time: I have nearly got it all off my hands now into those of the Printer,4— Jane will answer for herself about the Cake of Dover Street:5 she will call for it, by some conveniency, I think about Monday. James's Newspaper was altered (by Jack's advice):6 is it any better? Is Jenny well; I hope you see her often, poor little Jenny.— Our weather here too is fierce.— God bless you all, dear Jean!

T. Carlyle