The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 12 February 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520212-TC-JCA-01; CL 27: 40-41


Chelsea, 12 feby, 1852

Dear Jean,

Here is a Letter from Jenny which, having done with it myself, I am to send you: the others, I find, including Mary, have already seen it. Poor little Jenny appears still to be doing well.

You complained last time, justly, that my letter was short: alas, this is like to be still shorter; for, in fine, such a racket of paltry confusions goes on about one in this place, and such a waste daily of all hours that you do not snatch as if from the fire,—I can get (literally) no letter written; or indeed almost nothing done that I like to do! Of the letters I write, 19-20ths are to persons and on subjects not belonging to myself or my own wishes at all at all; and many I do not answer in any way, but fling them at once into the fire. It is very irritating, but it is not to be helped: so let us say no more of it.

We are in our usual health here; weather now dry and rather frosty, with a decided spring look (these two days), after such a deluge of muddy sooty wet weeks as I do not remember to have seen in these climates before. Gutta-percha soles, old hat, and waterproof coat have been in constant requisition. I occasionally get a ride too, on a swift racer of Anthony Sterling's, which he is glad to get an excuse for not himself riding. On the whole I seem to be a little better in health than is usual with me for several years back: my Malvern adventures, and still more my now constant walk before breakfast, and alas also the idle fallow state of my intellect at present, have brought about this perceptibly (or half-perceptibly) improved condition, such as it is.— I keep extremely quiet, am generally alone; and indeed find little but annoyance in the grinning balderdash of most persons that are accessible to me. It is better to be sad and silent than to pretend mirth on those terms. I read a good deal; but cannot flatter myself that I am yet within short way of getting into any definite work of my own. We must wait and watch. They are on all hands reviewing that Life of Sterling, it would appear, and finding it heterodox and I know not what: but as I do not give myself the trouble to look into any such impertinent palaver, of course they are very welcome. I suppose (in a slight degree) the more noise they make, abusively or otherwise, the more sale there is. Yesterday I was in the London Library, and knew that 3 or perhaps 4 reviews of me were lying on the table, but had no curiosity to look at one of them: dirty creatures, it is not a pleasant spectacle at all!1 Nor is this philosophy on my part: alas, I grieve to say it is only weariness, contempt, and old age. When the day is sinking, and one's journey still far, who wd please to bother himself with the village curs barking?— — Certain Paris Editors (on behalf of a famed French review of theirs) have written twice for “some autobiographic notes,” and for a “daguerrotype” (or repitition2 of our last years experience);3 both of which modest requests I have twice politely refused.

Jack has had a terrible business letting Craigenputtoch for me; but seems to have succeeded admirably at last: I think this T. Bell may prove the most comfortable tenant we have yet had.— Adieu dear Sister. Did my Mother send you a reading of Chambers's Burns (3d vol. just gone to her)?4 You might find it worth looking at. And tell me in general how you are off for Books? And what you are doing, and how going on. Don't be too long in writing. My best regards to James and the Bairns. Yours, dear Sister

T. Carlyle