July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO JOHN STUART MILL; 12 July 1836; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18360712-TC-JSM-01; CL 9:6-7.


Chelsea, Tuesday Night [12 July 1836]

My Dear Mill,

Jane went off for Scotland on Saturday evening; there came a token from her today that she had got safe to Manchester, where Friends would be ready to receive her: tomorrow I hope to learn that she is in Liverpool with her uncle; and in a few days more, at home. I proposed your kind scheme1 to her, which she listened to with thankfulness; but her heart was, by that time, set on Scotland, as I anticipated: indeed she had got so weakened and dispirited that I too had to admit her Mother's house was the best for her. Your Sister Clara2 repeats the invitation in friendly manner tonight; for which pray thank her in my name: it is a trouble which, had I done my duty to you, I should have spared her.

I like well the prospect of going with you on Saturday: and yet I hope nothing does or will depend on it; for my state is very unsure. I work all day, and awake occasionally at 5 or even at 3 in the morning; I am so dreary of mood (like a ghost rather than a man), and alive nowhere except over the paper, that it often seems quite foolish in me to think of going anywhither—if not into total abstraction from mankind, into some Diogenes' Herring-barrel, with not even the sun to shine on me. “A place where you can be as stupid and as ugly as you please”3 is in these circumstances an indispensable blessing. C'est le grand bonheur de la vie [“It is the great happiness of life”], said one of the Foreigners one day.— I shall hear of you before Saturday, and answer more precisely.

With this comes a handful of Scotch oatmeal.4 The grand rule for making porridge is brief: The highest possible temperature; the meal introduced as nearly all at once as possible. That there be such rapidity of stirring, and such a beautiful effusion of the meal from the end of the hand as to preclude lumps and knots,—this lies in the nature of the case.

Heigho! God grant us better days my Friend; or, what were equally good, a lighter heart to bear these with!— It is late; and I ought to be asleep.

Good night! /

T. Carlyle—