October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 24 October 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18341024-TC-JCA-01; CL 7:316-318.


London, 24th October, 1834—

My Dear Sister,

A frank is going to our Mother, with a Letter from our good Doctor in it: this paper is so thin that I hope it may go too without exceeding the weight. They can send it you by Notman, and give you the comfort of calling it a Letter.

I was very greatly pleased by the news your goodman so punctually despatched me;1 pray thank him in my name, and say I wish he would write soon again,—and improve in one particular only: in length. Other fault I have none to find with him. And now let me hope you are continuing to do well, and that poor little Sandy (poor little Newcomer!) complains of nothing hitherto in these strange new quarters he has got into. Poor little fellow! He is a Sandy the Second, or even Sandy the Third, of my acquaintance: may he prove no worse man than his foregoers, and a happier one! His Grandfather of the name2 had a hard battle to fight, but fought it, too, like a man; and so left the best inheritance for those he loved. I am often reminded of him here: there is a queer kind of sub-likeness to him in our good neighbour Leigh Hunt,—who also is one of the most elastic unconquerable innocent minded mortals I ever met with.— But tell me how the little fellow gets on, and what he says to it. Very little yet I fancy; he is too busy considering what a singular concern it is.

The Doctor, whose Letter they may possibly send you, is well, and come back to the neighbourhood of Rome; he saw the great Eruption of Vesuvius from a safe distance; has been on the top of it since: their House was fearfully enough struck with lightning, some time after; but they all escaped without damage. A most providential mercy,—for which it is singular to think how inadequately thankful we are. He spoke in a former Letter of trying to practice in Rome (where he is to be again from about the beginning of November); a thing I strongly encouraged him in: but whether that will turn to anything is not clear yet. He and we with him hope to see you all next summer.

Nothing is passing with us here that is of great singularity: nothing in any case that can make bad news. I toil away at my Book, and hope it will not be so bad a Book; and ready before the Spring end. It is a huge, hideous subject; and what I have got to say on it has not all been said elsewhere.— I am glad the other Books have come: there is one off to Rome now too; and so that matter is ended, and we take up the next head of method.

Your Newspaper came yesterday; but no two strokes on it: was that obliviousness? I will try to hope and believe it was no more. I depend on you for writing to me, at any rate, if anything go wrong.— Tell me how all is; what James is doing; where his work lies; how he holds out against the spirit of Quackery which is in all trades, in his as well as mine. I wish I were not too far for sending you Books: but 5 pence a pound, Carriage, is too dear for the most of them.— We had a Letter from Mary, most welcome to us:3 Jane has been writing a little ack[now]ledgement of it to go with this: we hope to hear good accounts of her and her household; you will not forget them when you write.— The Parliament fire4 was noticed out of our back top-windows, and I went up to it for two hours. The people had done speaking of it, before next day was done: that is their way here. It was but a low confused mass of houses, and did not (the people complained) “make a good fire”! “Come now,” they said at times when something flamed up, “that's not so bad tho'!”— Write to us, or make James write. Our best wishes and prayers are always with you. Dear Sister,

Your affectionate—

T. C.

We see our Uncle John often in the Newspapers; and wish he would get on with that everlasting Fleshmarket of his.5