April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 21 November 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18491121-TC-JCA-01; CL 24: 295-296


Chelsea, 21 Novr, 1849—

Dear Sister,

Here is a Letter which Jack sent me, last night, from Alick; which, as I gather, you have not seen at Dumfries. Jack does not expressly bid me forward it to you; but of course that is the proper course, and I send you the Packet without delay. If I could write you something worth while from myself along with it, that too would be very proper: but, alas, there are neither time nor means for that just now; so you must take a flying word, as better than none at all, and put up with that till times mend.— This morning I got the Dumfries Courier; but it was sealed with a large splash of wax, carrying “Annan, Commercial Bank” upon it: that could not surely be from James or thro' him, tho' a part of the Address is very like his writing? There is a cross in the inside, marking some Paragraph about Wull Carruther's1 Lecturing on Knox: that, I suppose, will be the origin on this Courier? James will probably send his own, by natural course of time, tomorrow; and so resolve that question.

Jack's report of our Mother is tolerably good still; but she seems to be in an infirm kind of way yet, and will require to take good care during the Winter weather. The Doctor's being there is certainly a great resource, as matters stand: his stay there, even if it turned to no account otherwise, must be accounted a real benefit on that ground. But he seems getting on with his work too; and indeed he has as fair a chance there, for that kind of work, as he could anywhere have. “More power to his elbow!” poor fellow, is what we will all wish him.— And “more power to mine,” if that could at all avail, as a prayer!—

Jane took cold about a week ago, and has had some weakly days of it; never yet quite able to go out,—tho' the disorder has now abated considerably; and we hope will go altogether before long.— The Cromwell third edition got out the other day, after weary delays: I sent my Mother a Copy, which you will see next time you go into those parts: there are various little fiddling improvements &c; but nothing authorizing me to bid any of you concern yourself with it farther: indeed, such is the bother attending this business, I almost wish (in my impatience) there were no new editions more in my time, that so my poor hands might be rid of it for one thing! But in return it does bring money, more or less; and, I suppose too, it may be doing some good more or less: wherefore we will let it go its gates [ways], and not snarl at the fash it gives us. In Fraser's Magazine for next month, there is furthermore a miserable dud of a little Paper by me: this too you shall by and by see: I struggle daily to get into some black mass of a “Book,” or very big story I have to tell: but it will not do yet, alas, no, not at all.2 It looks as if I had a continent of foul liquid glar [mud] and scavengery to wheel away; barrow, shovels and self nearly buried in the vile black infinitude of quagmires;—and where to begin, or how to begin, or what on Earth to do with myself and it, I cannot at all see. On this side I try, then on that; to no purpose;—and many days I stand merely leaning on my tools in the painfullest, most helpless manner. If the resolution do not die out of me (which may God forbid);—if the divine rage were once to catch fire (a frightful state too for the poor burning wretch), I should then make some impression on it! “Dinna gang to dad tysel' a' abreed [Don't shake yourself to pieces]!”3—alas, there is no other way of stirring from the spot for poor me, whatever there might be for old Wull.— Dear Jean, I am at the bottom of my paper now, and past the limit of my time; so must off for the present dim day. “Our weather is foggy with a suspicion of frost”:—that is my spiritual weather too. Good b'ye dear Sister; I hope to write again soon. Yours ever

T. Carlyle