The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 21 October 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18521021-TC-JCA-01; CL 27: 335-336


The Grange, Alresford Hants / 21 Octr, 1852—

My dear Sister,

Here certainly I am; and here your kind letter has reached me;—at least the first letter has, which was the important one, for the promised second containing Jenny's as Enclosure has never yet come to hand. As I know Jenny's news by you and by some Scotsbrig channels, it is no matter about this latter omission.

I had a dreadful time of it in Germany, with incessant locomotion and want of sleep; I saw a great many interesting things, of course; but in this utterly broken humour, I could give myself right account of none, and was forced, as it were, to stuff all into my bag for future study.1 Neither, alas, when I got home, on Wednesday (8 days ago),2 was there any rest; the house still full of painters, at least varnishers, of returning Carpenters, of litter, ruin and confusion;—and as for poor Jane she had nearly worked herself to death with all the hubbub of these operations, and could absolutely do no more towards getting all done in time. It had ultimately beaten her; and not till 4 days more was there an absolute certainty that the last painter would actually take his leave Alas, alas! However, there was a pressing invitation for us both to come hither; and hither, after some struggling, we have actually come since friday last, and are engaged to stay till “the House at Chelsea is thoroughly washed, and the smell of the varnish somewhat abated,”—which means, I conjecture, some day early next week, or rather perhaps not “early” at all, for indeed it is not settled yet, and we must wait what is appointed and indicated by the proprieties of the thing. Alas, I am not “happy” here, tho' lodged, waited on, nourished, and curried, with the perfection of human art: one thing I want and cannot get: profound sleep and rest;—no real rest is appointed for me here; I need not look for the like of that here! I gallop daily thro' the country on swift horses; take what care I can of the fatally late dinner;—smoke tobacco, sauntering amid these woods & bushes; and endeavour to keep a “calm sough[”] and wait patiently till my own shop open for me again.

Jack is actually to be married; and has a fair prospect, I think, of being comfortable as a wealthy father-of-a family. Poor good Jack, it seems a wider parting with him than ever before; and makes one heartily wae: all one's wishes concentrate for him on such an occasion,—and, with me, silent sadness is the order of the day— I wrote to him at Elm Farm3 but hitherto have no answer. Adieu, dear Sister, I am dreadfully pressed for time today, as I generally am here in this idle life—ah me!—but mean to write again in not many days. With kind regards to James— Your affecte / T. Carlyle