January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 26 July 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420726-TC-JCA-01; CL 14: 238-240


Chelsea, 26 july, 1842—

Dear Jean,

Your Letter from the Galloway Coast arrived yesterday. I am very glad to fancy my Mother and you there; I hope it will do you all good, young and old.— But you must endeavour to get butter, or it will never do! These bathing-quarters are apt to prove a rude kind of shop; as we too found, last year, at Newby in many ways. For three days, I remember, there appeared no possibility of getting milk, unless we took to stealing it or begging it. But one has always the benefit of right clear air, and a swash in the ever-pure waters of the ancient Sea. The Shore where you now are is very pleasant too, if your weather prove any way tolerable. Here we have it of a most uncertain kind; little rain comparatively; but the most capricious changes of wind, and consequent alternations between hot and cold. Jane has a fire lighted sometimes in the morning, then at noon we are all roasting, and midnight again will be cold, almost frosty. There has never been any right fierce heat since June; from which alone I conclude, in opposition to all sorts of clatter, that the general harvest cannot be first-rate. They are all busy sheaving hereabouts; the grain, I understand, is good, but rather little of it on the ground. The general famine of Britain will evidently not be cured by our harvest: it is greatly to be dreaded there will be rioting and massacre before winter pass; and the infatuated Landlords will have to abrogate their Corn-Law, perhaps in greater haste than will suit them well! From your meal-mob in Dumfries1 you may judge what a general meal-mob over Lancashire, Yorkshire and so many other shires would be.

I read your little Methodist Tract,2 and will return it when you get back to Dumfries. A considerable Packet of Books had already gone; must about this time have got to James: a very miscellaneous set of works; some of them are for James himself and you; one for Mother; some for Scotsbrig,—a considerable set, mostly rubbish, for the Ecclefechan Library. James will have his own adoes to get them all sorted and despatched.

My work remains dormant, sleeping the uneasiest sleep. I follow to the Letter my own precept, “Hasten slowly”;3—but it will not always be so; it must alter, and shall. For the rest, I keep much within doors, am very silent and quiet. Good, above all things, “to work ay mostly in a place by himsel'!4

Jane has about bargained to go out and pass a week or two with Mrs Buller in Suffolk, in a quiet country place, some seventy miles to the North-east of this. I warmly second the motion; judging cer[tainly] that it will do her good. Probably I myself may go up into that quarter and fetch her home. “Cousin Jeannie,” I suppose, will return to Liverpool: she is a most quiet, cheery little creature; content in any situation.

Jack, as usual, was here the day before yesterday: they are not speaking of leaving London yet; he has got his cash paid up now, has bought “Exchequer Bills” with it; he is always in good health, heart and spirits; smokes a cigar, beside me with my pipe, and describes with great heartiness what he has been doing thro' the week. “Poor fellow, after all!”

Emerson the American has sent me another £50 from my Book-sales in his country: I always receive such monies like manna dropt out of the skies. His Grace of Buccleuch has never yet paid me, nor said that he will, nor even that he will not! I too maintain the most absolute silence on the subject; thanking God that such a capricious haddock is not “the breath of my nostrils,” as poor Sir W. Scott found a Duke to be.5 Let him take his own way of it, the most illustrious Duke.——— Now you must be sure [of one] thing, dear Jean: to take care of our Mother in that rude [place],—for one very especial thing, to see decidedly that