April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 30 October 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18491030-TC-JCA-01; CL 24: 274-275


Chelsea, 30 octr, 1849—

Dear Jean,

Your Letter gave great satisfaction here, and even excited “emotion”; and, I found the other day, an answer was sent off to it by the party chiefly interested. I myself about the same time had a purpose to write; but that put me off.— I am very busy since my return, and make hitherto the most unsatisfactory progress; which puts me generally quite out of condition for writing letters at all (my poor liver too assisting towards such a result): and so, in fact, I write to almost nobody whatever, except it be in some case of strict compulsion (dirty little cases of that kind continually occur here, “invitations,” solicitations, authors' manuscripts &c); and by far the largest share of all the Letters I do write goes to Dumfriesshire, I think, in these late times. “You must just excuse us, the day, Sir,” as the old Coach Guard once said to me; “the weather's no what we could wish!”1— Alas, alas, in bitter earnest, I am growing an old man, and have still an immensity of things which I have never got said in my vocation, and which are very importunate upon me to get said;—the “saying” of which is a terribly difficult job indeed; and sinks me into dark regions of confusion, and even of weak misery and dispiritment of which the “outer public” has little notion! However, I trust always in your affection, dear Sister, in your tolerance of my short comings,—in your “just excusing us the day,”2 however bad the “weather” be.—

I cannot say that I have yet made any progress at all in the road towards a new definite edifice of a Book; but every rude balk or boulder one tumbles aside, every barrowful of broken crockery one wheels away, every stroke of honest effort one makes, is something towards such a result; and therefore I must even persevere, persevere,—and, for one thing, chiefly keep my mouth shut: that I have found to be generally a really furthersome proceeding of its kind!

Our weather is delightful, a beautiful “St Martin's Summer,” these two weeks past, after a tract of vehement windy cold. Jane has gone out; I too have just to go.— Jack's account of our Mother, four days ago, continues favourable; “up thro' the day,” &c; but she is not yet recovered to her old health, I fear, by any means. Jenny is come back to you again, I suppose.

And now for a request, Can you get me 2 (say 3, and not more) bits of Shoemakers' waxed-thread, “Rositty-ends” (need not be quite “ends”), of rather small grist (my awl being small): I need them in cobbling with gutta-percha here.3 Alas, my paper is done! God bless you, dear Sister.

T. Carlyle