August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 27 May 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580527-TC-JAC-01; CL 33: 227-228


Chelsea, 27 May, 1858—

Thanks, dear Brother, for your two successive Letters. I have been kept in a wretched feckless state of confusion all this while,—like a tired horse, not allowed to get to his stall;—worried incessantly with small odds and ends, requiring settlement before the thing close. By the end of this week, however, I do expect to see the whole in type; a little haggling with Proof-sheets, and it will be all done! It seems almost like a dream that such consummation shd be at hand; that in two or three days I shall actually have that intolerable burden off my back. Many a time, in weak hours, it has appeared to me as I should never get out of it alive; as if the disgusting chaos wd prove too strong for my swimming powers in this weakened obstructed state! But it proves not so; and that is a subject of thankfulness to me;—almost my one conquest in the enterprise, I believe.

The Book done, I must immediately begin strict consideration of the question, Whitherward to run? Nothing definite can I yet settle. The world is all grown somewhat vacant to me; the cities of refuge in it fewer and fewer, with increase of years;—a piece of the Common lot, this too. Most of the friends whom I yet have are about Scotsbrig and the neighbourhood: some indubitable affection still left thereabouts;—whh is a grand consideration in choice of place in this wearied humour! But we shall examine strictly when the Proofsheets are done. Tell me a little what riding conveniences there are in Annandale: the excellt brown chesnut,1 whh I rode last time, I think you said was sold? I must consider my horse too, and what I shall do with him. It is the one medicine that has done anything for me in these abstruse whirlpools;—an excellt horse, too, this of mine proves, and much my friend from old acquaintance. He is getting very brisk, this summer; better than for a twelemonth2 past;—I sometimes suspect the hot close stable he has here of doing him ill;3—but there are two or three ways in whh I cd dispose of him.

Poor Jane is weak again; the weather to me (genial warmth, with a good deal of rain and wind in it) is perfection; but it proves obstructive to her weak faculty, of taking exercise, and standing damp &c and she is sensibly weaker for a fortnight past. Today her two Cousins4 (on the road homeward, but taking gaieties in London as they pass) are come over, for the second time since their arrival: by no means the kind of company for poor Jane; who wd need some elder Sister (if there were one) to take the whole charge off her, and put her quietly to sleep! Alas, we can find no such person now. She makes, as it were, no complaint whatever even to her own self; but struggles daily to compose all her bits of duties; and is even very cheerful when under no special pressure. A courageous little soul; but distressingly weak and feckless,—alas, I can merely be distressed, but do almost nothing else for her.

Your picture of Waugh, grown an ugly old hulk of a Pauper, is very tragical: but he was tending towards that this long while, if we had seen him well.5 No kind fortune interposed between his tendencies and their whitherward; and there he is at the goal, poor soul. It was very well of you to leave some little money for him: as you have a good way of administering there, I shall be willing to contribute my share towards anything that can really alleviate the poor old kinsfellow and brother mortal.

Pray send this over to Jean, from whom I had a Note (“Photograph very good,” Jane says).6 Here is the horse! “The O'ss, Sir!”— — I send my brotherly regards to Jamie and everybody; and am

Your affecte / T. Carlyle