The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 26 January 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500126-TC-JCA-01; CL 25: 10-11


Chelsea, 26 jany, 1850—

Dear Jean,

Here is a Letter come from Alick which has been immediately sent us from Scotsbrig: I contributed a bit of answer to it yesterday; and will now send you the Letter itself for perusal in your Dumfries quarter. Alick, you will be gratified to see, is labouring away, and doing seemingly very well among his young folks,—tho' a little involved, as his use from of old was, in the finance department. His old fault, poor fellow, of grasping more than an armful of whatever he is at!

It is a good while since we heard anything direct from you here: Jack writes often from Scotsbrig, and puts in a bit of Dumfries tidings when he has any, but that is not always or often. We always try to fancy you as tolerably well, and “struggling along in the old way,” when we hear nothing. But a specific word of intelligence, now that penny-stamps are in vogue, is much preferable!

I have myself been in the most entirely silent of humours; in fact, overwhelmed with all manner of private confusions; kept a little s[ick]lier than usual by the grim frozen weather;—and abo[ve] all, busily concerned with Printers again! That is my remedy for all misery, and that unfortunately is itself a misery, always making me worse in health for one thing. Alas, there is nobody that can much help another! Each of us has to sprawl along with his own burden on his back; not unlike foundering, at times; and the kindest friend can only help by speaking a word of comfort, or bre[at]hing a silent wish when there is nothing spoken. That [is] a great help too; of which I am not destitute more than another.

After long tumbling and wrestling about with a mass of confused written-stuff here, which has been oppressing me for months and years past,—I have decided at last to give vent to myself in a Series of Pamphlets; “Latter-Day Pamphlets” is the name I have given them, as significant of the ruinous overwhelmed and almost dying condition in which the world paints itself to me. The First, about what they call the “New Era” (the absurd blockheads) [i]s to come out at the beginning of February now instant: it is quite gone from me; they are printing the Second even (which is for March); and I have begun this day to turn the Third over in my mind. A questionable enterprise; but I could not help it! I think there will be perhaps a Dozen Pamphlets in all,—two Volumes when completed;—and it is to be expected they will occasion loud astonishment condemnation, and a universal barking of “Whaf-thaf? Bow-wow!” from all the dogs of the Parish.— A Paper I published in Fraser about Niggers has raised no-end of clamour; poor scraggy critics, of the “benevolent” school, giving vent to their amazement, and uttering their “Whaf-thaf? Bow-wow!” in a great variety of dialects up and down all the country, as I am informed.— That will be neither chaff nor sand to what they will hear in these “Latter-Day” Discourses, poor souls! All the twaddling sects of the country, from Swedenborgians1 to Jesuits, have for the last t[en y]ears been laying claim to “T. Carlyle” each for itself [a]nd now they will all find that the said “T.” belongs to a sect of his own, which is worthy of instant damnation. All which is precisely as it must be, and as it should be. Nay we have a considerable amusement over it here; being, I do suppose, about as well situated for speaking what is our own mind on occasion as perhaps any “free King” of these parts, or these times! A much more question[ab]le consideration is that of one's bodily health holding ou[t] thro' the job:—but that too we must risk; trying t[o] take all precautions as we go. These “Pamphlets,” I will manage some way that you regularly get to read, as they come out. And so wish me well thro' them.—— —— Jane continues pretty hearty; and now our frost seems gone. How are you all? How is good little Sister Jenny?2 Be good to her; be good to one another in this bad unkindly world! Our Mother seems to hold well up at Scotsbrig, which is a great mercy to us all. We saw your last Letter to Scotsbrig.— Give my affection to James and all the rest; and so Adieu dear Jean. Your affecte Brother

T. Carlyle