August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 30 November 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18431130-TC-JCA-01; CL 17: 191-193


Chelsea, 30 Novr, 1843—

Dear Jean,

The day before yesterday there went away towards Edinburgh a Parcel of Books directed to your James; which are intended for his and the Scotsbrig people's benefit: the[y]1 consist of certain criticisms on me, of Dickens's Chuzzlewit,2 and other rubbish; particular Books or Pamphlets, one or two, are specially addressed, and will point out their several owners: the rest are a common property, to be divided amicably. Two are small picture books, which I bought one day for behoof of your household, some three years ago: you will perhaps [consider them?] for James the Younger.3 The Criticisms on me are of small moment, all of them except one in the Dial, by Emerson of Boston in America:4 this will please you excellently; and so soon as they have all read it that wish to see it, I hand it over to James the Elder, who has or had a kind of accumulated stock in that kind. There was another Criticism, which I reckoned of some moment, by a zealous and gifted Clergyman here;5 which also I meant to send, and will yet send; but at present, I understand, it is in Wales, and so must wait. The Dublin Review and Church-of-England Review are not properly speaking mine at all;6 so pray keep them clean, if at any time they should be asked of me again!— You had better send the whole of the Criticisms off to our Mother, as soon as possible; as I have announced that they are coming. And now, Bairns, I should suppose that there is plenty of directions about so small a matter! The parcel may perhaps be in Edinburgh about Wednesday, and come to you in a few days after. You will send me some note of its arrival, and so all will be well.

Our health here is tolerably good, except that Jane's skin proves too thin for the winter, and she has caught lately a little whiff of cold, which however is mostly off again. I too had a kind of threatening of a cold; but drove it away by starvation. I am well enough in health; but, alas, my work is in as beggarly a state as man's ever was: no road yet opening thro' the business; nothing but desperate digging and moiling, the banks tumbling in on me again as fast as I dig! I find I shall have to be considerably miserabler before I force my way thro' it. You must just let the man alone, with your blessing. I feel that it will go, if I were once into it. “I work aye maistly in a place by mysel'!”—

By last post I wrote to Alick, in answer to his Letter which you saw. There are for this and the following three months no posts but one monthly, on the 4th of each month (2nd I suppose from Dumfries): if you wrote again it would be very welcome to Alick.

Jack goes about at a great rate buying Books, reading, speculating &c &c; and is always in “immense haste” when you see him; hearty and happy-looking withal. I think he seems to be looking towards some kind of Literature rather than Medicine. It is a mighty blessing for him that he has funds to live upon without turning to anything:—a blessing, and yet perhaps the reverse of a blessing!

My neighbouring young lady has in the handsomest manner undertaken to keep her Piano silent daily till 2 o'clock; and does so, poor little creature; so that I have got down to my old quarters again, which is far handier for me. Could I but get the ground fairly broken: ah me!— Good night, dear Sister; my blessing with you and yours. Jane's love to all of you. Adieu T. C

Jane “will write to you one of these days.”