October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 21 July 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570721-TC-JCA-01; CL 32: 192-193


Chelsea, 21 july, 1857

Dear Sister,

It is long that I have been in your debt for a word of writing; not forgetting you, tho' silent: but indeed, except that there is no important change here, as I suppose you hear otherwise, next to nothing new was to be said;—and so the credit account stands as we see. Having a vacant quarter of an hour today (end of a kind of job, or half end, and head too achy and sick for starting another), I send a line, before going out to try if a walk will do anything for me.

Jane went away to Haddington, exactly a fortnight ago; still very weak, poor soul, and much in need of country to help in gathering a little strength against winter. Up to yesterday her news were very flourishing; great motherhood of welcome from the good old Ladies; sad but blessed quiet, and medicine for the soul itself in those old scenes of the Past and the Departed. But on Saturday last, she had again got some whiff of cold, and seems to have been very miserable: I wait anxiously today for farther accounts. It is already the Post-hour, and nothing has come; but one cannot yet say there is nothing; so irregular has the rapid Rowland Hill become,—sorrow on him the never-resting Quack; apparently he does not know that of all faults in a Post-office, uncertainty is the very worst, not to be made good by never so much speed!— I had a Note, of extreme brevity, from John today, which reports you all as in the usual way: with your Jim too, about Pipes, I have lately had some correspondence since his return.1

Our weather here is hot in the extreme: new wheat coming to the market,—quality and quantity hoped to be excellt in that article. For two weeks past I have sat out of doors altogether,—under an awning in the little Garden;—where I even breakfast daily, where I am at present. Daily comes my ride at 5 p.m, dinner (rather a slight affair) being at 4. Somebody comes to ride with me now and then; otherwise I see, as it were, no human company at all,—difficult to suit such a man with company!—but sit steady at my dismal work; one hope in me that I shall yet get out of it, inch by inch! No lark like it ever came in my way; or I think, in almost any man's: but the English is, it must be done,—with a malison on it! In general I have not third-part my old poor strength (being in such a wretched state of stomach withal); the great is my need to employ steadily every useable minute. We are at printing; whh goes on not too well: but by Heaven's grace, we shall hope to be thro’ it in a twelve month or so. (At this point a man came in, one Helps, worthy to be admitted, whom I have not seen for a long time: he has exhausted all the minutes I had!)— Adieu dear Jean. The Dr2 I believe will be with you almost as soon as this Note. Good day, dear Sister! Yours

T. Carlyle