1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 7 June 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550607-TC-JCA-01; CL 29: 326-327


Chelsea, 7 june, 1855—

Dear Jean,

Your Letter came at the right time; and an answer has been due for some days, but alas is not likely to be paid unless I break in upon the swift current of things that whirls me continually along here! I take time by the forelock; and write this morning, the first thing I do,—lest you think something has something has1 gone wrong with me, if I keep silence.

There has been nothing in the least new in my history lately,—unless it be a rather additional degree of biliousness, sleeplessness &c &c, produced probably in part by the change of temperature in the weather. I try to mind that as little as possible. A little bodily strength would be very valuable,—if one could get it! But one cannot; one has to go on with what there is on hand. Bodily strength or no strength, it will be highly expedient for a man to get along with the Task he has, for Time is on the wing whatever his Task may be!— I do not get on worse than before; I am plodding along, as in dark subterannean2 passages and “vallies of the colour of lead”:3 some day or other I may chance to get done, and emerge into daylight again.

The Summer has come at last: yesterday was a day of blazing heat; all night too we had to sit with a through-draft, and the temperature was near 80° towards midnight. Early this morning however there has been a fierce shower, which has tempered us again. I often wish I were in the country, especially at the Sea-side; but it is a vain dream,—human creatures all wanting to be where they are not;—there is no outlook in the least steady that way; indeed nothing fixed any way. The Ashburtons have gone to Paris, where Lord A. has some Official (half-imaginary) function to go thro' in regard to the “Exhibition”4 (blessings on it!)—this possibly may diminish the hold that “the Season” has on us here; which will be a decided advantage, and save me at least the writing of several “Polite Noes,” rather a wearisome small duty now and then. The company of my fellow creatures (with an exception here and there) does not grow in delightfulness to me: Oh Heaven! “What's t'use on't?” as Sandy Corry said:5 Consists of grinning nonsense for most part, and grieves one even while it is going on.

Jack and the two Boys are to be in your part of the world soon: I see him often, he was here yesterday;—very many nights, in my “last walk” (if before 10 o'clock, when his door shuts) I go round by his street, thro' quiet places, with the little Dog, and sit an hour with him; sometimes, but very seldom, I find he is out. Books, calls, Letter-writing, Law business (of the Boys's), these seem to be his occupations: he seems perfectly tranquil, cheerful; and is now, I think, in good health.— That was one very right thing he did, that of the £100 Draught. I did not hear of the situation, till I found it was helped in that natural and easy manner.6 I am very glad withal to hear of that purchase; the hand of the diligent maketh rich,7—not rich in the Hudson billiard-table style8 (God forbid!),—but in a real way; which it is pleasant to think of and see.—— —— Jack borrowed the Fraser 3 days ago, but is to bring it back tonight. The Current No has an article or two a shade better than usual. It, and Another forgotten Old No, will reach you the day after this Note. Good be with you, dear Jean, You and Yours all

Your affectionate Brother /

T. Carlyle