The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 18 December 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18501218-TC-JCA-01; CL 25: 309-310


Chelsea, 18 decr 1850—

My dear Jean,

Many thanks for your assiduous investigations about those Houses! I must write you a word on the subject, tho' my time is very limited, and my judgement on the question none of the clearest.

Jane is much taken with your description of Cullivat, the spacious rooms, nice grounds &c: indeed it is an inviting outlook from these smoky imprisonments. But, alas, when I consult her what I am to tell you about it, she answers with a satirical humour which cannot be called “hidden,” That the real truth is, I cannot resolve to leave London, and become a quiescent zero in the country, just yet; and that I ought not to bother my friends with negotiating about such a thing!— Alas, alas, and there is some truth in what she says; my desperate desire to be out of some fit of bilious misery makes me snatch at any hope; and then, when the fit alleviates itself again, I feel what I possess here, and that I ought to stand a certain degree of sickness for it. Thus is the poor sick wretch driven hither and thither, in a very foolish way! It appears also that whenever I do resolve on taking to the country, I must carry not myself only but another on my back. Surely, surely, some time or other, such a resolution must be taken nevertheless!—

Meanwhile, do not quite lose sight of Cullivat, but do not bother yourself too much about it. The thing I had and have chiefly in my desire is rather a place of shelter, to fly to for a month or two in summer or when over-wearied here: in this view the Drungan concern (or something like that; into which perhaps Jenny, and our Mother and the Dr himself might be drawn to participate) than a lease of of1 the Cullivat mansion and formal establishment there. However, do not quite lose it out of sight either; you can tell us the exact rent of it at any rate;—also any thing more about the “Lodge” on the Cargen: is it a thing like your house? It seemed to me to be of two stories? And what is the “park” attached? I think I remember the old Priest Dalrymple2 lately stationed there: a very ignorant windy idle soul in grey knit pantaloons, whom I once, somewhere or other, [met]3 blethering over whisky punch, “above thirty year ago”;—done with his whisky now, poor soul!— — Nothing has been settled about our own house here; but I suppose there will be something opened to us on the subject next term, which is now within a few days' distance. “A man is not a bird that flits so easily from bough to bough; a man is not a snail that carries his house on his back”:4—the more is the sorrow, says the evil spirit in one!

We have had much mud and rain and drizzle; and seem now in the fair road towards frost. Jane seems pretty well; and says nothing more about her hurt, nor seems willing to have me speak about it: I do hope it is practically away, and will not even give her poor imagination much trouble. I perceive however she is still shy of using the right hand for heavy work: poor little soul, she has a great load of sickness to carry too. This morning came a Letter from Alick, which they will send you; all well too with him. Best regards to James; and so adieu, dear Sister. / T. Carlyle