The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 2 March 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510302-TC-JCA-01; CL 26: 37-39


Chelsea, 2 March, 1851—

Dear Jean,

I was very glad to see your Letter, and much obliged for the trouble you take. Jack writes pretty frequently, and others write; but there is, on the whole, none of whom I get so substantial an account of matters as I do from you, when you steal an hour for me from the bustle.— Surely, you might say, I, who have no little noisy bairns to rise at midnight and break in upon my writing, might readily contrive to answer you directly! As indeed I strive to do:—but here too there are endless perplexities that beset the Son of Adam; and, in result, this is the first instant I have had for writing any line for the post: and a whole crowd of dirty little impertinent bits of Notes (about nothing at all mostly) from various points of the world, are lying to be answered today. Heigh ho! A weary world it is, and full of nonsense!— Besides I have been, and am, rather busy, sorting up old rubbish here, and adding new,—not with any immediate view to printing, but with objects that are necessary too.

I notice Drungan's Lodge as you predict; and feel a transitory satisfaction in thinking of that other possibility, whether it ever become a reality or not. Truly if Jack could be tacitly persuaded, and Jenny and my Mother liked, I could be well pleased to know that I possessed a habitable apartment there; and should be willing to pay half the rent for having such a shelter always open in the background. But I fancy our Dr will not bite at such a bait; nay if you too rashly tried to incite him, that would be the sure means of a flat negative: I conjecture he has other notions in his head; and contemplates, above all things, the satisfaction of not being tied at all to any residence or condition! However, you may try what can, in a good way, be done. Jenny herself resident there, would not that save her rent in the Town,—how would she like it, and my Mother and self to come when we liked?— After all, I fancy nothing can be practically made of it,—or hardly anything that will well hang together? I seem, for my own part, to grow a little better, here where I am, as the season strikes up: for the future time, if it prove intolerable here, there can some new device be fallen upon.

Our weather is very grim; frosty, grey-coloured for most part, but not unpleasant when you get into heat, walking on the dry furzy commons (South over the river, into the Surrey country-world), and have the pure sky, with its gruff clouds and bright bits of spring blue, overhead. I am bound thither today, for a long solitary stretch of walking.— All is in a ferment of wheesty-whasty at present, Lord Johnny out, and no new Ministry to be had for love or money. It is said now, the poor little reckling of a body will have to come back for a short time (very short it is hoped), and then Sir James Grahame1 or some kind of reasonable person, with force at his back (with force in his own self especially) will march in. Settle it as you like, gentn; there is one solitary individual that will accept it either way.

Jane still stirs about, pretty vigorous, in spite of the cold. Her servant talks of going away again; has fallen accidentally very deaf, and I suppose ought to go. A sad never-ceasing botheration, that side of things is!— Jack says he sent you the Magazine: I have another here that will go off to our Mother in a day or two; they engage to send it regularly to you, after reading it. I am glad to hear James has got into a library;—also that the young James2 is doing well at Closeburn, as we anticipated. He by no means wants for faculty; and the schoolmr there is good.— A young “man of genius”3 (sorrow on him!) stole four hours of my time, and hunted me into hurry for the whole of last week, taking a medallion of me.4 If it prove worth anything, a copy shall be had. Adieu, dear Sister; I am off to walk, and high time!

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle