The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 7 February 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500207-TC-JAC-01; CL 25: 18-19


Chelsea, 7 feby, 1850—

My dear Brother,

Not being good for anything at Latter-Day Pamphlets today, and having fiddled away all the morning painfully to no purpose whatever, I decide before going out to at least write you a little Note, and try to get some news about my Mother and the rest of you. I am very busy, and alas very feckless;—and John Greg (Canadaigua) and his Brother1 came to dinner yesterday, which has quite put out the eye of this day, my sleep having been ruined!

I am busy with Pamphlet No 3; which promises to be by far the worst of the Lot hitherto. No 2, about the Prisons and the “benevolent dodge,” is done, and looks pretty fairish, or will look when they have fairly printed it:—a piece with some fire in its belly, I do suppose! No 1, of which you recd your Copy I hope, is going its muddy way; universal censure (at least so far as I hear),2 and “vigorous sale,” reports Chapman. I can unfortunately look for nothing else but censure; and must not stay screwing my words so as to escape that, for that is not escapable, do how I may: I shall be too happy if I can but get my say said, and so leave it. There will perhaps be more agreement upon it 20 years hence than can be now.— — I have been terribly weak all this while; and think sometimes I shall have to get a horse again while this affair goes on. Or perhaps the Spring weather will itself set me up considerably. That sad concern, prolapsus [hernia] as your faculty names it, has plagued me incessantly all winter thro'; but I have now contrived a truss, and by aid of poor Jane's needle got it put in active order, whereby the misery is very greatly helped, indeed is almost abolished so far as the outward suffering goes. Which is a real deliverance to me. My very feet have been threatening to fail me; and I have got a pair of specs this winter for the first time,—“an epoch in a man's life,” and I said, “this of getting his first spectacles, almost as marked as that of getting his first razor, and not nearly so joyful!”— But as to the feet, whether it were the cold weather or what, I know not; but they have behaved very ill, in the way of corns, all this while; and one of the little toes, by unsuccessful attempt to help it with a pair of patched old shoes, lodged itself exactly in the crack or gap below the patch, and has been a ruinous toe ever since! There is one thing therefore, you must do for me if you can: look out for that pair of shoes I left last at Scotsbrig,—a pair cracked on the sides but perfectly easy for me;—send them to a gutta percha cobler; have the cracks thoroughly patched (on the outside), and oh let him take care to bring the lips of the crack close together before he put on his patch!—finish all with a pair of gutta soles and heels; and let me have the “old friends” sent up hither by the first chance there is! That is all at present; and I will say nothing more about myself and my wonderful sufferings and exertions whatever for some time!3

Jamie got his Letter, I suppose? Jane has been expecting from you some word or other. I myself have been too negligent a correspondt to expect much,—tho' indeed my hurry too was excessive and offers considerable excuse. We suppose you very busy over Dante, and not quite able to get along at the pace prescribed; which holds your Letter arm. Take a slower pace: that is the remedy! No matter how slow if it be sure.— — The night before last we were at Scott's;4 taken up and brought back by the inevitable Schwabes5 (the shortest method with them): a most crowded confused soiree, consisting of cold tea and the usual trimmings. Plenty of inquiries for you. Home by eleven.— Here is a Fraser for my good dear old Mother; I wish I had something worthier to send her. With my heart's blessings to her; and to you all.

Poor Jeffrey, poor Jeffrey!— His disease was trachea: he could not swallow, and must have died by starvation, if the slight fever had not killed him.

John Mill was the Author of that dud of a reply upon the Niggers in Fraser; John himself, beyond doubt! A more perfect dud has not often come before me; and to be done by Mill!— I send him No 1 all the same, poor soul.

—Ever your affect Brother

T. Carlyle