August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 16 April 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580416-TC-JAC-01; CL 33: 204-206


Chelsea, friday (15?) [16] April 1858

My dear Brother,

I have had both your Notes; whh were very welcome to me: I will write a word today to keep your anxieties in check. Alas, I ought to have written to Jean also long since; and to I know not how many besides! But everything is agt my writing; everything down even to the mechanical materials I have. Nothing will ever reconcile me to those miserable iron-pens, plaster-lime kinds of paper, and other modern improvements; tho' I have been driven into them in a kind of self-defence. Often, in writing that beautiful Book now on hand, I remind myself of the old Spaniard who had to do his ‘on leather with a dagger’;1—and in fact I detest writing more and more. And expect fairly to end it, if I can ever finish this that is now on hand. Let all friends be soft with me; for I declare myself hard bested at the present season.2

Our weather has suddenly got warm, too warm: I am absolutely suffering from heat in my garret here; 3 days ago in thicker clothing there was difficulty in subduing the cold. Jane is now out: poor little soul, she wd have been joyful & on the road to well again, had it not been for that devil's-brood of House-servants! Anne went away, a fortnight ago, as I told you; on the whole, no good farther to be had of Anne,—better that she shd go. Then came the usual muster and choice for poor Missus;—great fash, fidget; and at last a simple-looking Scotch lass preferred, who did not know her work, but whose physiognomy pleased hugely in the proper quarter. Much new fash in consequence for the two weeks gone; patient treating of the simpleton, animated by hope, of honesty, veracity, affectionate mind &c &c: the whole of which fell again on poor Jane, for I had nothing to do in it except hold my peace; and rejoice in such prospect of all the virtues in a simple form. Night before last, the poor Dame did not sleep, seemed sad too: on pressing into her, I found the Simpleton of Virtues had broken into bottomless lying, ‘drinking of cream on the road upstairs’ &c, &c, and that in short it was hopeless! And while we yet spoke of it, a poor charwoman3 (used to the house) knocked at the room-door, and entered with sudden news That our simpleton was off, bag and baggage (plus a sovereign &c that had just been advanced her); gone (10 p.m.), and had left the pass-key with said charwoman!— My poor little sick Partner, I declare it is heartbreaking for her sake. Disgusting otherwise to a high degree; and dirtier for the mind than even brushing of boots oneself wd be for the body. But our Dame is not to be beaten quite; has already improvised a new arranget4 (unhappily no sleep yet almost); and we must help her all we can surely in the carrying of it thro'.— I am on my last Chapter,—really on my last legs too, as it were, and quite worn down. Printers are again hastening: “end of May” is my steady goal. I will go somewhither, and have a long rest!

Yours ever T. Carlyle

I send an Autograph duly: there is unhappily no Photh here or procurable. Dixon's Daughter writes, seemingly not a very wise woman.5

I hope those Quakers6 may do something for J. An:7 good wishes & regards to Henry Watt, on his new Voyage. Adieu dear Brother.