The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 13 June 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530613-TC-JCA-01; CL 28: 169-170


Chelsea, 13 june, 1853—

Dear Jean,

I got your cheerful little Note from Scotsbrig, and delivered the fragrant woodrif1 according to order. Today, in great haste, I send you a word of answer; having, in the meanwhile, begged a Daguerrotype of Jane for you (an expressive but dreadfully unfavourable likeness!—as they all are, and this is the best of 3 or 4); which I here enclose. That indeed is the main purport of my writing; and nearly all the news, or other advantage, I can afford you today.

We have had very hot weather; and I took as usual, no benefit from it, but grew uncommonly bilious, and therefore uncommonly wretched and useless; however, we have today, an unlimited deluge of constant long-continued rain (began some time in the night, and it is now 3 p.m. and brisk rain still); which will comfortably freshen the world for us, and do immense good to the grasses and trees.

I get no way made hitherto in my work, absolutely none; only persist, in the most sad manner; and must just go on till I succeed.— — We have kept quite out of the “UncleTommery” here; and have never once seen the Mrs Beecher Stowe,—knowing well enough that out of an innocent-minded commonplace Yankee Schoolmistress you cannot for your life make a world's wonder, and pearl of nature,—and would be wiser if you did n't try! The nonsense, I think, that has come up this year,—table-turning, spirit-rapping &c &c,—even exceeds the average of years. For another instance: One Albert Smith, a very unsuccessful Writer of trashy Laughing matter without any laughter in it,—in fact, a nearly unmitigated blockhead,—went travelling, the other year; and came home with an account of his “Ascent of Mont Blanc” (the highest of the Swiss Alps), which he delivers for a good while back, daily, with “views” (I believe) and such blether of Cockney balderdash interlarded with do wit as he can command (resembling “wit” as sawdust does gunpowder): and, all this year and last, the biggest room will not contain his Audiences, which are 3 daily; and about 16,000 human creatures applying for admission in due turn, are on his books just now; and he is making, for his shot of work, £5,000 a-year;—as I heard yesterday with laughter and astonishment; and found really to be not quite incredible, but a kind of shadow probably of the real fact!2 Is not “universal suffrage” the grandest manager of things that ever was?— — Under the sun, as I conjecture, there were never greater miracles of human stupidity achieved than in this enlightened London in these days. It is crammed with “money” too, and swelling out like a mushroom on every side: giving rise to many thots, not all of them joyful, in a rational man.

Do you often see Aird; is he still lame, poor fellow? I have lost all speirings of Browne; and mean always to go & visit for myself again, but neverdo.— — Jane will most likely be in your parts (I guess) about the end of this month,—which is fast coming on now.—— Adieu, dear Sister I send my affectionate regards to James, and pray for all blessings on your Household & you. Be a good Bairn always. Your affectionate / T. Carlyle