The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 28 April 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510428-TC-JAC-01; CL 26: 73-75


Chelsea, 28 April, 1851—

Dear Brother,

We got the Letter from Alick (which has since fallen aside somewhere, and cannot be found this morning); then the enclosed Note from Jean, telling us about poor Jenny's project;1 lastly your Note an hour ago, chiefly on the same subject: so I will write you a word straightway before falling to anything else.

I reckon it very fortunate and very proper that my good Mother reconciles herself to what is evidently the course for Jenny in her present circumstances. My own impression is, it is actually the best thing Jenny can do. She has struck me always of late as extremely unhappy at Dumfries: a poor fettered downpressed life, altogether unsatisfactory to her own mind, and embittered daily and hourly by the thought that she was burdening others to enable her to continue it, moreover. It is also painfully clear how ill Jean and she have got to be together; no doubt a great aggravation to her, and a bad fretting element in Jean's life too.2 Perhaps Rob, with her to help him, may do better now, with so much hard schooling as he has had: who knows? She has a faith in him;—and is determined to try. In short, I am very glad my Mother so gallantly reconciles herself to what is necessary: and this point settled, I clearly think all is settled; and we are bound, all of us, to forward Jenny on her pilgrimage, and assist her with whatever help we have. She (however Rob may go, and were they even to part again) can hardly do less with her household talents and various industries and virtues in America than she was painfully doing in Dumfries; and the chances are she may do very much more. Let us all help her to go, since such is the road for her.— — Jean remarks, very indisputably, the ready money she has is far too little. Do you ascertain what ought to be added to it; and I will cheerfully bear my part in making it up. What the exact expense to N. York (by the second cabin) is? Then, in case Rob shd not be there or have no money, a Letter of credit payable in N. York for some little sum:— Judge you what is best and fittest, and tell me.

I have got a really respectable Copy of Hervey3 for my Mother; I have also without difficulty found your boots: I design to send them off (Books and boots) today or tomorrow to your Address. I will not prepay them (since as you will see by Jean we are liable to burbles by that method); but you will tell me what the Parcel costs, and I will refund it in Stamps. Jane is this day making ready a little package of “old gowns” &c for Jenny; which is so bulky, I decide she had better send it straight to Dumfries on its own footing.

We have again most dismally cold weather,—except when the sun suddenly bursts out to roast you, if you have on a thick stock of clothes. Most people are getting more or less mad about the Exhibition of Winddustry (as a punster calls it). I crossed the S.E. corner of Hyde Park yesterday (to Darwin's and back), you never saw such an ocean-tide of people as was streaming towards that sublime Temple of the Windbags, and boiling far and wide round it! I rushed across the course of it (at Hudson's), and in a second or two was in quiet again. Far enough, on the grand “Monday,” shall one individual be from the scene of it!—

I called on Bunsen the other day; got some Norse hints from him, some vague shadows of Copenhagen &c, and a glimpse of a certain Secretary called Dr Pauli,4 who is said to be learned in such things, whom I design to send for, according to his wish, as he really seems to be a brisk sensible little fellow. B is very fat, very pursy and flabby; his great eyes, the size of millstones, look very strange, besides his small ineffective delicate mouth and his big indolent belly! He is always good and social, however; and that is something: no trace of gall or splenetic egoism in the much-digesting man. He inquired very kindly for you, as for everybody;—declared the Island of Schonen to be the loveliest place in all the world “in the month of June.”— — I bot from Wms & Norgate5 a small neat new Danish Dicty, done by Repp6 whom you remember. It is not yet come home: I was ordering the Hervey from Stibbs,7 and so passing that way.

I wish I knew any other Book to send you, if you are in need of Books. Pinkerton's Scotland before 1060 has well entertained, and considerably instructed me, for some days past; really a learned solid book (tho' sadly ill-written); the best of the antiquarian genus I have read for years. We (Scotch) are and were all Scandinavians “Piks,” he says, and the Celts are nothing or less.

I suppose you have no time for reading, and really want no Books, or other furnishings except these books? Besides, if it be above 3lb, in two parcels or in one, an equal weight is of the same cost, is it not?— Adieu dear Brother. I have written far more than I meant or needed. Give my blessings [(]8 if they were good for any thing) to my Mother; and keep her within doors while this cold lasts. Good be with you all ever.— — T. Carlyle