August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 7 May 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470507-TC-JCA-01; CL 21:205-207.


Addiscombe, near London, 7 May (Friday) / 1847—

Dear Jean,

Having a few minutes to myself, during a day otherwise altogether devoted to idleness, I think I may as well write you a word or two: it will probably be the only good action appointed me till tomorrow or later! This is the Country house of the Barings, kind people with whom we were in the winter: the Lady has been to Paris, seeing her Mother who was unwell there; she decided, after her return, to have a quiet week in the Country here; and so got Jane out with her last Monday, I being appointed to follow when I liked and bring her home. I came accordingly on Wednesday afternoon, and tomorrow we are to return: a wholly idle time for all of us,—the like of which might make one regret! Mr Baring the Husband goes and comes to Parliament,—went yesterday, for instance, and is expected to dinner today;—I myself smoke a good deal of tobacco, and go stalking about among the green fields and lanes, which with their fresh breezes do my heart good; the two Dames, in the meanwhile, daunering [strolling] out and in among the flowerbeds mainly, driving out for what they call exercise once a day, and otherwise consuming the time: wholly an indolent affair, which I shall have had enough of tomorrow,— I think when one is not working, one ought not to be happy; one ought to be very unhappy, seeking out work.

There was nothing new at London since your last Letter came: a big bustle, getting ever noisier; in which we at Chelsea take less and less concern. I have even given up corresponding, in a great measure; all manner of applications not essential I strive to wave off,—and find silence the wholesomest in such an element of things: something good may come of silence; but of talking in that dialect there can little or none come!— I wish sometimes I were at another Book, had a Book fairly shaped again: but I think we are at a considerable distance from that yet.— They are going to reprint my poor F. Revolution this year; the Miscellanies are already reprinted (tho' not yet come out, owing to a trick of the Bookseller's):1 these poor Books of mine, in spite of all impediments, have become a kind of landed property to me, and yield a certain rent more or less considerable, every year. Which is a good result of its kind. You can also tell James I have got an American review of me, which seems worth sending to him: if I manage right, he will get it about the beginning of June.— The Newspaper which he weekly gets is not a good one: but I can find none better, no other so good; wherefore we must be content.

Jack came down to me the day I went off to this place; I had been dining with him (to meet a curious Book-virtuoso of the British Museum, a strange Isaac-Fletcher2 looking body, altogether employed about Books) the second day before that. Jack is very well, and going on in his usual way: he was to write to my Mother, at least he partly promised, but I know not quite whether he will perform; which is one of my reasons for the present blash [torrent] of writing. We want again to know about my Mother (no end to our wants!)—at any rate she should not be left in any anxiety about us here, which we can relieve her from. Your Letter, as all your Letters are, was very welcome; right thankful we are to have such a veracious image of the ly of things as you with your rough pen can dash us off!— I suppose our Mother will be getting impatient now to see Scotsbrig again: but tell her she need not be in any hurry till the sun fairly burst out. By M'Diarmid's account3 you have had wild storms for three days lately,—they were windy days at Chelsea too, but we did not know them as storms. O my dear Mother, take care of yourself, for all our sakes!—

Dear Sister, you see my paper is just ending; and indeed I feel that I might cover immensities of paper, in the vague hurried mood I am in, without telling you almost anything. Besides, here is a flunkey with brushed clothes, hot water, and hint that it is time to “dress for dinner”:— Sorrow on it! Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle