The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 11 September 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400911-TC-JCA-01; CL 12: 250-251


Chelsea, 11 Septr, 1840—

My dear Jean,

I am not to come to you this year after all! Such is the result I have made out after summing up all the Pros and Contras: that I had better, in my present state of health, at the point the year is got to, with cold and wet ahead of us, stay still where I am. It was in the beginning of this week, after sore meditating, and not with a very light heart, that I so made up my mind. Nothing grieves me at all, in the many chances of tours, visits &c, but this of failing to see my Mother, and the rest of you. I care not a whit literally about all the rest, and can surrender them rather with cheerfulness, and think I have had a good escape: but this is rather hard to abide. I must abide it, however. I have settled accordingly to read again; I shall probably print my Lectures; I have even some inklings of beginning another Book. Let us all be content, and do what is in us: there is no other course profitable. I had a letter from my Mother this morning; expecting confidently to see me soon: alas, it cannot be! I believe I ought to stay here. For the present there is no remedy.

The consolation I employ for myself is a fixed purpose of getting out of this place next year for the whole Summer. I even calculate that I will come and live at Puttoch if I can get no other place. An authentic silent Peatbog would have been most blessed to me, many a time, in late years. I should greatly prefer the sea-shore; or some attainable house in a habitable country: but Puttoch might do, if better were not. I must think of this; and give Corson warning, if need be, in time. By the bye, has anybody ever seen the colour of his money yet; or to whom was he to pay it? I think it will be needful to awaken him by and by.

We have now cool or even cold weather here, not without occasional rain. I wish your Farmers had their crops up! My Mother says, Austin is getting on; Jamie is about beginning. I wrote to Alick yesterday, the bad news that I was not coming.— All people almost that we knew are out of Town: the Town itself is in one of its pleasantest seasons; fresh, clear, comparatively quiet: I suppose 100,000 persons or perhaps far more are out of it, roaming in all quarters of the Island, of the World! One can read here, one has some liberty to meditate,—little company comes to me at any time equal to a good Book. I have light Summer clothes; in these I can walk a long way without getting wearied. It does me good to consider myself fixed and settled now for a certain series of months: time to be worked in, or time to be wasted, let me try which!

I sympathize much with James in his irregularity of employment.1 It is really one of the most provoking miseries; with which I too in my way have had a great deal to do. He would be wise, I think, if he could devise for himself any secondary employment to fill up gaps. He is a shifty scheming man. Alas, a man has need of it all in this country at this point of our history. The distress of all kinds of people is very great.

How are the little Bairns? Has the little sickly Annikin2 got any more bathing?— Be good bairns all of you!

Your affectionate Brother / T. Carlyle