TC TO JANET HANNING; 19 January 1837; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18370119-TC-JCHA-01; CL 9:120-123.
TC TO JANET HANNING
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London, 19th Jany, 1837.
My dear Jenny,
It is a long time since I heard directly of you at any length, or since you heard of me. To-day, tho' I have not the best disposition or leisure, I will send you a line: there are no franks going, but the post is always going, and you will think a shilling might be worse spent.
We are very sorry, and not without our anxieties, at the short notice Robert sent us on the Newspaper; however, the next week brought confirmation on the favourable side, and I persuade myself to hope that all is getting round again to the right state.1 Your health is evidently not strong; but you are growing in years, and have naturally a sound constitution; you must learn to take care and precautions, especially in the life you are now entered upon, in that huge den of reek and Cotton-fuz,2 where one cannot go on as in the free atmosphere of the Country. Exercise, especially exercise out of doors when it is convenient, is the best of all appliances. Do not sit motionless within doors, if there is a sun shining without, and you are able to stir. Particularly endeavour to keep a good heart, and avoid all moping and musing, whatever takes away your cheerfulness. Sunshine in the inside of one is even more important than sunshine without.
I do not understand your way of life so well as to know whether the Goodman is generally at your hand; in that case, you have both a duty to do, and society in the doing of it independently of others; but, at all events, frank communication with one's fellow-creatures is a pleasure and a medicine which no life should be without. Be not solitary, be not idle! That is a precept of old standing. Doing one's duties (and all creatures have their solemn duties to do), living soberly, meekly, “walking humbly before God,”3 one has cause to hope that it will be well with him, that he shall see good in the world. Write me a letter, full of all your concerns and considerations, when you can muster disposition. I shall always be right glad of such a message. In fine, I hope the spring weather will come and set us all up a little.
Before going farther, let me mention here that a Newspaper came to me last Monday, charged nineteen shillings and some pence! I, of course, refused it. I got a sight of it, but could not ascertain accurately from whom it was. Either Alick or your Robert, I thought, but the Post people had stamped it, and sealed it, and smeared it all over, and marked it “Written on,” so that I could make little of it. The cover, I noticed, was in writing paper scored with blue lines: it strikes me it may have been the Manchester paper, after all, and no writing in it but the copper-plate on a piece of one of Robert's account papers. At all events, when any more Newspapers come, the law is that the cover be of vacant blank paper; likewise we will cease writing or marking except two strokes on the cover, lest we get into trouble by it. I refused this nineteen shillings fellow; and they will be able to make no more of it, but it will make them more watchful in future. I mean to write into Annandale to the like effect.
The Doctor sends me word out of Rome that he wants a Dumfries Herald4 forwarded to him thither. I have not yet arranged that; but I am thinking of having this Herald (if the days answer) sent by Manchester, thro' your hands. I think it would reach you on Saturday. You could look at it, and send it on, the same day, whereby no time at all would be lost. The two strokes would always be a satisfaction. We shall see how it answers. If any such Herald, then, come your way, you know what to do with it.
It is several weeks since I had any direct tidings out of Scotland, except what James Aitken's address of the Courier gives me: it had the sign of well-being on it last week. I am to write thither shortly, having a letter of the Doctor's lying here, as I have hinted. The Doctor says he had written a few days before to our Mother, which has made me less anxious about speed with this to her. He is well and doing tolerably well,—getting what Practice in Rome, a beginner can expect. The Cholera was about gone from Naples, and the panic of it from Rome, so that more English were coming in, and he hoped to do still better. You can send this news into the Scotch side when you have opportunity.
All people here have got a thing they call Influenza, a dirty, feverish kind of cold; very miserable, and so general as was hardly ever seen. Printing-offices, Manufactories, Tailor-shops, and such like are struck silent, every second man lying sniftering in his respective place of abode. The same seems to be the rule in the North, too.5 I suppose the miserable temperate of climate may be the cause. Worse weather never fell from the Lift [sky], to my judgment, than we have here. Reek, mist, cold, wet; the day before yesterday there was one of our completest London fogs,—a thing of which I suppose you even at Manchester can form no kind of notion. For we are exactly ten times as big as you are, and parts of us are hardly less reeky and dirty; farther, we lie flat, on the edge of a broad river: and now suppose there were a mist, black enough, and such that no smoke or emanation could rise from us, but fell again the instant it had got out of the chimneyhead! People have to light candles at noon, coaches have torch-bearers running at the horses' heads. It is like a sea of ink. I wonder the people do not all drop down dead in it,—since they are not fishes, of a particular sort. It is cause enough for Influenza. Poor Jane, who misses nothing, has caught, fast hold of this Sunday last, and has really been miserably ill. She gets better these last two days, but is weak as water; indeed, the headache at one time was quite wretched. She has been, on the whole, stronger since you saw her, but is not at all strong. As for myself, I have felt these wretched fogs penetrating into me, with a clear design to produce cough; but I have set my face against it and said No. This really does a great deal, and has served me hitherto. I hope to escape the Influenza; they say it is abating.
The Book is done, about a week ago: this is my best news. I have got the first printed sheet, since I sat down to write this. We shall go on swiftly, it is to be hoped, and have it finished and forth into the world, say, before the month of March end. I care little what becomes of it then; it has been a sore Book to me. There are two things I was printing lately, which I would send to you, but there is no conveyance. I fear you would do little good with them, at any rate; not five shillings' worth of good, which they would cost you. Besides, if Robert or you want to see them, you can let him go to a Circulating Library and ask for the last Number of the London and Westminster Review. In it he will find a thing called Memoirs of Mirabeau: that thing is mine. The other thing is in Fraser's Magazine,—half of it; the other half will be in the February Number: it is called Diamond Necklace.
This latter was written at Craigenputtock a good while ago. I see your Manchester Editor6 feels himself aggrieved by it, worthy man, but hints that there may be some mistake on his part; which I do very seriously assure him is my opinion, too. Other Editors, it would seem, sing to the same tune.
After this Book is printed, it remains uncertain what I shall do next. One thing I am firmly enough resolved on: not to spend the summer here. I will have myself rested, and see the fields green and the sky blue yet one year, follow what may. Many things call me towards Scotland; but nothing can yet be determined upon. If I go Northward, Manchester is a likely enough step for me; nay, perhaps the Doctor may be home from Rome, and we shall both be there! Nothing is yet fixed; we will hope all this.
And now, my dear Sister, I must bid thee good day. Salute Robert from me with all manner of good wishes. I have known him as a “fell [clever] fellow” since he was hardly longer than my leg. Tell him to be diligent in business, and also (for that is another indispensable thing) fervent in spirit,7 struggling to serve God. Make thou a good wife to him, helping him in all right things by counsel and act. Good be with you both! Jane sends you all good wishes from her sick bed, and “was grieved to hear of what had happened you.” She will be better in a day or two.
Your affectionate Brother, /