April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 18 June 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490618-TC-JCA-01; CL 24: 70-72


Chelsea, 18 june, 1849—

Dear Jean,

You have really been very ill served with Letters this long while; the more is the shame to us,—but in fact all things have been lying in a fallow, ill-conducted, unprofitable and ungainly state with me for one, which has impeded the discharge of a great many duties! My work has stood at a dead-lock, this long while; my poor inner-man (meaning both soul and stomach by that term) has been in a bad way. I am only beginning [to]1 see, and that still a good way off, some kind of course for myself into rather clearer country.— You have been terribly bothered too, in your household, I find, and little able to demand Letters from us. One little word, tho' in great haste, I will despatch to you today.

Jenny wrote to me from Scotsbrig, last week; our Mother had caught a kind of cold, which Jenny represented as nearly gone again: the rest of them were all as usual. Jack is not arrived there, nor has he yet, I suppose, appointed any time; but he is on the way thither; he left us, near a fortnight ago; went to Nottingham to a certain Mr Neuberg (a friend of ours who has become his); staid there about a week, and is now with one Forster (another of the same) at a place called Rawdon, near Leeds in Yorkshire. Whether he has any more visits to pay I do not know: but he is, you see, slowly proceeding Northward, and you may expect to see him before long.2

As to us here, we have been in a weakly way of health &c, but have now decided in some measure what we are to do by way of trying to help ourselves. I, after much speculation and inquiry, have resolved upon a bit of a Tour into Ireland: I mean to go and look into that doomed Country, a little, with my own eyes; calculate in spending perhaps four weeks there,—am engaged, at all events, to set sail for Dublin from this Port on Thursday come a week; and shall then see how my subsequent journeyings are to be ordered. Duffy (late “Rebel,” a most excellent young man, much attached to me, and well acquainted with all that is Irish in Ireland) is eager to accompany me; Forster (the Young Quaker whom John is now with, and who has been in the West of Ireland with “Quaker Deputations &c) will also attend whenever we summon him: Four weeks in the open summer air, and in continual locomotion, will surely do my unfortunate liver some good;—and from Ireland, if I learn little that I do not already know or guess, I calculate on getting a great many suggestions that will further me in spiritual respects. At all events, I shall have the Problem lying visible before my eyes, all the while; for there, in that starving distressed Country, there it is that the “universal Imposture” has fallen prostrate into due ruin,3 and is demanding of all men, “What will you do with me?”— My good old Mother protests vehemently, thro' Jenny, on the score of “danger”: but I will assure her, and you must all assure her, that there is no “danger” at all,—less, I do believe, than in any other home travelling whatsoever:—so I go, as you hear, on the day named, and indeed must go, there being nothing so like helping me that I can think of just now.— Of course, by the aid of penny stamps, I will keep you in some kind of communication; direct you where to write &c. And at the end of my Irish Tour I calculate on coming over by Steamer to some Scotch Port (Glasgow, Ardrossan, Annan itself), and seeing you all as my next step! That is my arrangement, let us hope it will all run right.

Poor Jane is very feckless, and the summer does not help her here: but she too means to have a little Country and I think in Scotland this time. She will go North into Fife first, where her Cousin the Minister, and a good little Sister of his are;4 good people both;—and, I hope, be decidedly better when I rejoin her, after my wanderings.— Alas, alas, yearly I grow more averse to roaming of all kinds, more desirous to sit down and not stir again at all; but that will not do just yet, the rule lies the other way as yet for a space.— I will send your Letter on today to John, who will perhaps write to you; but indeed he writes hardly to anybody (at least little to us), and we have to give him credit for wishing to do it. I am terribly bothered and busy,—with hundreds of things! You had better forward this to Scotsbrig, till I write to my Mother herself in a day or two. Poor Jane Grierson,—poor everybody! Your affectionate / T. Carlyle