August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 19 September 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420919-TC-JAC-01; CL 15: 95-97


Chelsea, 19 Septr, 1842—

My dear Brother,

We missed you yesterday at dinner for the first time:1 you will have some wandering before we see you again! Your Letter came on Saturday night: today I send you a word of notice that we have got home again, that nothing has gone wrong with us.

It was not till Thursday last that we got away: tho' anxious to be home, we found it would look unkind if we insisted on Monday. Charles Buller came with us; we had a bright sunny day, Jane in the inside, C. and I on the outside; our journey was as little unpleasant as a journey to me can well be. It ended, after a weary lumbering thro' the whole slow length of London, about five O'clock.— Jane, I think, if she were once completely reinstated, is better, and will go on more cheerily for this rural interruption. I too have got many new images put into my head; my poor nerves have just been under potent drastics (Castor and Blue-pill!)—and promise to serve me a little better in some sort of real work, which I am now getting utterly impatient to begin. I need to be prayed for! My malady is dumbness; the root of it all, at least the curable part of it all, is clearly idleness.

Nothing had gone materially out of joint in our absence: yet one evening, the very evening or midnight I lay awake at Ely,2 thieves had actually been in the house! They had entered by the window of the back kitchen (which you may remember is as good as open, at least openable); they had fancied then that if the door of this was opened, they would have command of the whole house, diningroom plate, drawingroom press, and what not,—only one servant sleeping sound in the topmost story! Here, however, they were mistaken; Helen now sleeps in the front kitchen; she heard them boring in the back-kitchen door, rose, struck a light, rapped as she went past, and fled up stairs to Miss Welsh. The thieves made off; the police were got alarmed: nothing could be discovered but the hole nearly completed opposite the bolt of the door, a chair, part of it broken in the hurry, and an open window at which the scoundrels had escaped thro' the Garden. Not the slightest trace could be fastened upon anybody: I myself partly suspect some of the scamps that frequent Chancellor's stables,3 who knew me from home. We have got a joiner to put iron stauncheons outside the window, and take other new measures of defence; Mazzini is to afford me a sufficient horse-pistol: on the whole, I do not think we shall hear of the gentlemen again. Of course you need not tell my Mother anything of all this, which would only vex her good heart and affectionate imagination to no purpose.— We are much quieter at nights now when the long days are over; I shall hope for better sleep.— O that I could deserve some right sleep by a little right labour in the daytime! Voyons [Let us see].

One of the Letters lying for me was from “the Proprietor of the Atlas Newspaper,” asking me to be a judge in his £100 prize-essay! The business seemed benevolent, not to be peremptorily rejected, not to be obstructed; yet I had and have very little hope of good from it; and answered accordingly, endeavouring to shy off from the judgeship. The man has written again. I send you both the the4 Letters, also his last Atlas No, from which you will discern the whole matter as it now lies. The Letters you can keep, and return to me. I do not like to refuse; and yet, on the whole, I perhaps like worse to act: I have yet answered nothing, and will wait for a while before answering. “J Whiting,” it seems, is a printer: his offer has something of the magnanimous in it, poor Whiting.

You will surely go to Annandale, if it be at all possible, and see our good old Mother once again. Ah me! The sight of you will be a kind of jubilee to her and them all.— Did I tell you that the Duke had actually paid me his money; at least, given me a Draught for it, payable on the 26th inst.? I was right glad of it.

Be well & happy, my dear Brother.

Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle