July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 30 December 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18551230-TC-JAC-01; CL 30: 151-153


The Grange, 30 decr 1855

My dear Brother,

I am very glad to get your Letter this morning; I had been daily noting your delay, tho' not imparting it to anything but the causes you now assign. Our weather here too, for four or five days, was intensely cold; especially that Saturday when your ear got the venom of it in your drive to Annan: but that very night there rose a loud wind here; and on the morrow, instead of a thick universal coat of snow which I expected, there was a complete thaw,—which has continued ever since; dry for most part, tho' with one complete day of wet;—and on the whole making out singularly fine weather for this season.

That is the history of our weather;—and truly we have hardly any other history, for I never in my life was more utterly idle, having given up the very attempt towards anything that can in the least be called work, as a thing totally unsuitable to this scene. I go and ride daily; every day except sundays, a long solitary ride, ending about sunset; sometimes a considerable walk in the forenoon to boot: in that I am faithful from very obvious considerations; and I restrict my efforts to that. Our company is not much to speak of; Lord Lansdowne for one night (just went, the morning after we arrived, still the old polite hard shallow Gentlemen); Bear Ellice (still here, the oiliest and best-natured of old men); one Villiers1 (Hawk of Politics, and rather clever and consummately well-bred); Lowe of the Times and Board of Trade;2 Twisleton with Wife, one Portal with do (extremely pretty she, and a credit to the House of Minto);3 Venables, gone and coming again;—an assembly changing every day and never worth much at the very flowering time of it. At present we are rather low: nobody to depend on except a Dr Carpenter,4 innocent clattering fish-faced mortal, whom doubtless you know, who has a microscope and a pair of the ugliest gums, which are often seen in his continual small-beerish talking: he our chief lion; and both Lord and Lady A laid up with illness. I generally take refuge with the Bear and old Lady Sandwich, who have endless human anecdote at least, and are much better than that of “sea-slugs,” and other scientific small twaddle. Ach Gott!—

For the rest, in spite of the unwholesome hours &c I seem to myself to be decidedly improving in health. At starting I had two quite sleepless nights (as poor Jane too had); but all is tolerable now in that and other essential particulars:5 and I really expect to be a little sounder of body (and of mind) for beginning my labours again, when I get back to my Garret. (Worse writing-apparatus as you may perceive, no mortal ever had!)

In fact I spend fully four-fifths of my time by myself, oftenest in excellent free air, and among agreeable downs and woodlands. That is very wholesome. My thoughts are not impotent in my solitude; mainly altogether sad (as they may well be, looking back from this season of the year), but quiet at the same time, and therefore salutary since I have got no better.

Magnus the Painter has sent me from Berlin an excellent Photograph (indeed a lot, as I understand) of a Picture of Fredk the Great; which I am very thankful for, and shall be glad to see. A new Grate (by Bramah) has likewise been put up in my Chelsea Garret and waits me there.

This is all I have time for, dear Brother;—and indeed more of it would be good for little! But the Postman is here; I have been interrupted, and tumbled abroad in all directions since I wrote the first page,—about noon today; and now it is six!—

I send the kindest brotherly regards to Scotsbrig: Jamie, Isabella, and all that are still alive there to care anything for me. Oh Heaven!— But I will add no more.

Yours ever affectionately /

T. Carlyle