1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 6 June 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18540606-TC-JCA-01; CL 29: 111-112


Chelsea, 6 june, 1854—

Dear Jean,

I had wrapped up the Fraser on Saturday, and meant to send it off; but, being hurried, forgot it—only recollected it when I was gone a mile. The same day I had intended you a word of writing; but that, of course, was still farther from my hand!— I send the whole thing in a heap today; still very hard up for time; being in fact a bad manager of time, I fear, which surely is a bad character of me.

Your Note came in due course; you will have got little James, I mean James the Younger, home with you at present; and I fancy to myself how glad a blink of time that will be for you, amid the common run of days! Little Jim, I hope, is doing well, and has got over all his preliminary difficulties at Glasgow? Let him stand faithfully to his work; and there is no danger of him. A man that can and will do the work cut out for him may fairly expect the wages appointed;—only if otherwise, he can expect nothing, especially in such a scene as Glasgow now is. I believe my little Nephew to be a very good fellow by nature: with plenty of born faculty, if he be diligent enough; sense, patience, punctuality; above all things, and in all cases and in all senses, integrity (doing faithfully to the bottom what can be expected of you, and refusing in any way to take the Evil Genius into partnership with you!)—these are the qualities a man ought to have, if he will prosper there, or in this God's-Universe anywhere!— Give my best regards to him. Tell him too I recommend, for one very preliminary thing, a great attention to his penmanship; he must never cease struggling and endeavouring till he get a swift, correct and acceptable form of handwriting. Bid him not quarrel, or bother at all, with his Cousin Jamie;1 bid him determine to be peaceable and friendly with him,—or in fact to keep out of his way, and forget him quite, when that is not possible.—

Jack is to be expected here about Thursday or Friday, he says. They have not taken the House, I know not for what reason; they have some friend of Phoebe's appointed to seek them Lodgings in this quarter of the Town. The Fraser House was about a mile and a half from us, rather on our road up to Town, but not quite; the Lodgings I hope will be equally or still more handy in that particular. What the poor Dr meant to do about settling or returning, I conjecture, is a great mystery still to himself; and will not be settled till after much hithering and thithering, and admonition from within and from without. However, he has always a companion now, as you observe; and is no longer a solitary wanderer and wayfarer.

I am getting on as poorly as ever with what is charitably called my “work”: alas, I never had so ungainly a thing to subdue to my own likeness; totally without internal inspiration towards it, moreover; and to crown all, I am getting old, and very “stiff to ye rise2 compared with times I can remember! However, we will not give in; not quite, while the life is in us, if we can help it!—

Our weather is dreadfully cold these last 3 or 4 days; probably a deluge of rain to be expected again, after these howling storms from the North and East. Jane had been complaining slightly, and keeping within doors out of the wind, for some days; but I took her out yes[ter]day,3 and I hope set her agoing again,—unluckily catching a dirty little whiff of cold for myself by the operation. Mere sniftering, mostly gone now; whh will come to nothing. However I ought to be off, out of such a chill element as this has now grown for me, here in the “noiseless” garret,—far enough from noiseless.

Don't forget the pipe-wire; I am really in want of it. But love to James and all of them.

Your affectionate Brother /

T. Carlyle