October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 4 January 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460104-TC-JCA-01; CL 20: 95-96


Chelsea, 4 jany, 1846—

Dear Jean,

We came home about a week ago; so you can now direct the poor Courier hither again: the two strokes on the back of it will at least be welcome to me!

We had six very idle weeks down in Hampshire yonder;—the idlest I can remember of my Life; really nothing done at all, day after day, except dress, talk, eat and sleep (the latter, alas, rather imperfectly in my case!),— with flunkies running about you, and superfluous accommodations, at all hours! However the place was beautiful, the people were beautiful, and the climate:1 and here we are again, safe thro' it all; safe, or even perhaps slightly improved in some particulars.

I expected some composure here, and no great press of business; but am again obliged to fall to work, full tilt. Contrary to all expectation the Book on Cromwell proves popular; there is to be a new Edition of it before long! New Letters &c have turned up for me, which tho' of no great importance intrinsically, I am loth to omit: so, once more, I am obliged to duck into those horrid quagmires from which I had fancied myself forever escaped,— and am again making a considerable “swatter [untidy heap]” there! Happily it will not be long till the brunt of this second bout is over; and, at any rate (for there is nothing essential to be changed), I can make it as short as I like. Nobody has a right to complain that a Second edition of his Book is needed! It means more cash to him, among other things.— Considerable reviewing of the Book goes on; very little of which do I see, no jot of it seek after. Here, in that Nation Newspaper which I send you today, is some balderdash of O'Connell's on the subject:2 mere jackassery; “di the naither ill na’ guid!”— —

Jack is actually coming home to you; making ready now to be off, next week. He is busy with some Translation of Dante; which is much better than doing nothing; it holds his hand in use, which of itself is something. We yesterday wrote away to Alick; his last Letter was a brave-looking one, and pleased us well for all its sadness.

Times do not look quiet in this part of the Earth: Corn-Law strugglings &c &c; and too probably Famine in the rear of all. Our Potatoes here (the “best Potatoes,” which also are uneatable) are selling at the rate of Four for Three halfpence: they, and all the Potatoes we can get, are infected and uneatable, gradually rotting; we have decided to give them up here, and take to rice, or one knows not what. Many poor creatures are already on the streets, with a look of pinching hunger in their faces. Ah me!—

I have a proof Print of Cromwell here, which I have some thought of sending to you for framing.— Send me a Letter soon. Blessings to you all. Yours ever