1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 19 April 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18540419-TC-JCA-01; CL 29: 69-70


Chelsea, 19 April, 1854

Dear Jean,—This came yesternight: so soon as you have read it, you may despatch it on its rounds, I suppose to Moffat first of all. Poor Alick seems very sad of humour; as indeed is not unnatural: I cannot but be very sorry for him on account of his peculiar part of the affliction, the loss of his poor little lassie, who has, as it were, just looked into this world, to taste only misery in it, and then returned.1 Ah me, ah me!

There came at the same time two Canada Newspapers; one evidently addressed by Jenny (to whom I had sent a Newspaper not long since); the other, after study, proved to be from John our Half-Brother;2 I suppose, in gratitude for his weekly copy of the Nation,3 which he has got this long while. Jenny's had the two strokes duly.4 Nothing farther to be noted was in either of the Papers.

I wrote a word to the Dr the other day; principally to signify that our Addiscombe visit was not to take effect, sickness (not of a grave character) on the part of the Hosts having caused it to be put off. It now appears that we are, after all, to go out for at least one day, and attend them in their solitude, about the end of this week. As the place is only ten miles off, and the weather as dry as a bone, this will not be attended with difficulty. I confess, for the rest, I was much better pleased to be left alone, in my present humour and confused situation. I cannot get daylight thro' my work at all; and never was engaged with such a crooked job of work since I first took tools up. Alas, alas!—

This morning I read in Aird that Mrs Bell of Craigenputtoch has got twin daughters:5 poor little souls! I hope she herself is more out of danger than when I last heard account of her. Tell me a little about Aird; he seems getting very rusty in his Newspaper labours: the death of Wilson at Edinburgh must have been a heavy stroke to him, tho' it had been long expected as inevitable. Wilson was by far the weightiest literary figure left in Scotland, or indeed in Britain; and might have been, in fact, a great man, could he have taken care of himself. But he could not; there was from the first a loose joint about the very centre of his existence,—a want, namely, of distinct veracity of mind;—so all his fine great gifts went tumbling helter-skelter into huge uncertainty, into inextricable confusion: and on the whole he had to call in the aid of whisky-punch to a large extent, for many years; and has come to nothing more than we see. Poor fellow, there was something very generous in him, too; very proud and stout: nor is it easy for so big a waggon to get thro' the dirty intricacies and vile parish-roads of this world, at present!— I have not begun my day's work yet; I must not stay clattering here with you, if I am to come to any good issue with it at all! My kind regards to James and to everyone. Write when you have half an hour.—

Your affectionate Brother, /

T. Carlyle