The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 15 June 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400615-TC-JAC-01; CL 12: 166-167


Chelsea, 15 June, 1840.

My dear Brother,

Your long-expected Letter1 came on Saturday; and I fully purposed to answer it, according to your request, ‘that same day.’ But I was busy over head and ears with writing at the time; thought there would be space enough when my task was done; and, alas, on looking next at the clock, I found that four, our last post hour, had already come! I know not how this will now get to you; or whether at all: I send it nevertheless; trusting in David Hope2 or some other good friend.— You will write to me again, of course, from some part of your Highland route; I hope, without delay. I was gratified to find you in Glasgow; in your own country once again: it seemed as if you were far nearer me too than heretofore. I consider too that you will enjoy yourself more; perhaps do your Patient good. The voyage to America shall remain a private theory till we see how it turn. My own speculation in that direction is also still a mere theory.

We are quite as well as usual; Jane rather better; I have not suffered much from the heat hitherto. My green blinds do me great service; the room has been inhabitable all day; for most part, indeed, I have been close in it till past the heat of the day. I go less into Town than heretofore; the noise and stir there proves really a pain and hurt to me: I get a kind of emblem of the country and its composure for an hour by galloping as deep into Surr[e]y as I can get. One cannot ride in Country lanes for dust, except immediately after rain; one is forced to go upon the watered ways; our Wandsworth Portsmouth Highway is both much the nearest me, and also the quietest I have fallen in with. Often enough I do not go out at all till towards six o'clock; then gallop alone for two hours till tea. It is mournful, but it is not tormenting; it is placid, full of a sad beauty for me. My soul longs vehemently to live altogether in the Country again; and yet there too I should not be well;—I shall never be other than ill, wearied, sick-hearted, heavy-laden till once we get to the final rest, I think! God is good. I am a poor poltroon to complain.— Dinners I avoid as the very devil. What's ta use on them?3 What are Lords coming to call on one, and fill one's head with whims? They ask you to go among champagne gases, bright glitter, semi-poisonous excitements, which you do not even like for the moment; and you are sick for a week after. As old Tom White said of whisky, “Keep it;—Deevil a [if] ever I'se better than when there no a drop on't i' my weam [belly]!”—so say I of dinners, popularity, lords and lionism. Keep it; give it to those that like it!

With a great explosion of ink I have written down my First Lecture, as it should and could have been; that was the work I was ending on Saturday. I like it very ill, the style I am forced too [sic] there; and know not whether I shall persist beyond Mahomet, the second Lecture. To that I will begin tomorrow. My head is full of ideas;—my poor liver in the state you know of when that is the case!

I have got nothing out of Annandale but Newspapers with due stroking. Write again directly. I have much to say if I knew surely whitherward.—

Ever your affectionate brother

T. Carlyle