April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 18 October 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18481018-TC-JAC-01; CL 23: 134-136


Chelsea, 18 Octr, 1848—

My dear Brother,

I have intended you a Letter for some days; but not till now, when a word from Emerson practically applying to you has arrived,1 could my pious small purpose ripen to activity. I have been much beaten about with what our Mother calls “ae trade and another,” and day after day passes, in a confused manner, without effect.— Emerson's report of Yankee negociations need not distress you at all: perhaps it is but the shortest way, this offer he has got, towards a result which in any case would have been essentially the same. Get your Preface done; and be thankful that you do not need ever to mind about “sales” and remunerations either there or here. That, and the getting of one's work done are surely grounds for thankfulness.

We have extremely wet, cold and wild weather here; and almost no other news at all. Cholera is babbled of in the Newspapers; but seems to be a small matter as yet (if indeed it be as yet a matter at all), and rational people do not speak of it, or that only in the most transient way. I saw Forster last week, ill of bile, as I myself very decidedly was; Southwood Smith, now some kind of constituted authority in Hygienics, had been palavering him to a great rate about the “pestilence in the whole air” &c:2 I cured myself at once by the easy method of one blue pill and a soda draught; Fuz too is now better, I suppose by the help of nature. What little we have to do in Cholera, should it actually visit us, we know fully; and the rest—is clearly peaceable silence. Southwood had furnished Fuz with a recipe of pills “pro re natâ [for an emergency],” should any grumbling occur of a suspicious character in the bowels:3 Fuz sent it to me with charges yesterday; I have got the pills, believing them to be insignificantly beneficial in such a contingency: “Hydrag creta gr ii, Quinin. sulph gr vi, Confect. Opiat. gr xxx”; mix optime, and make 12 pills,—pro re natâ. So much for Hygienics.

Jane has been in the house two days, on account of the weather; today she is out, in spite of the bitter frosty wind, occasionally spitting rain. She has now got her upholstering nearly done; you will not know the room again (she hopes)!4 I have got her Buffon's Hist. Nat. which she reads pleasantly in the evenings.5— Darwin I saw yesterday, cheerful tho' blue; Maurice another day, sad looking and shilpit [weak].6 None of them knows about Scott's chance, which seems in fact to be doubtful;7 Darwin was much charmed with Dr Carlyle's certificate especially; so brief, business-like, clear and wholly to the point.

My paper is fast ending! Jamie knows we shall want a little meal (n.b. I take no porridge or supper now); also Anthony Sterling wants a quantity,—10 stone, we have said: let it be of excellent quality, let either Jamie or the Miller furnish it, and charge the just market price, I have engaged to Anthony.— Alas, I want a thick massive Dressing-gown too, warm and reaching to the ancles; but I know not if Garthwaite will undertake it, I know not— In short I must end today, and take up the tale some other soon.— — How is my Mother? O take care of her in this wild temperature. Look into her clothing; see that you leave her warm-clad; I know not how her wardrobe stands of late, but do you ascertain and tell me!— Helen is coming on Saturday first.8— Our best love to one and all.

T. Carlyle