July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 26 September 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550926-TC-JAC-01; CL 30: 73-75


Chelsea, 26 Septr, 1855—

My dear Brother,

The best news I have got for you is that Jean seems to be fairly thro' her sore business; has brought a son into the world (Saturday morning last,1 about 1 o'clock), after an illness of some 30 hours: I had a hasty scrape of a pen to that effect on Monday from James; then again more deliberate account next morning: assurance both times that Mother and Son were both doing well.— It was my full intention to write to you at least yesterday; and I had taken my arrangements accordingly, and had even actually begun (with my watch lying on the table, there being still time if I stood to it),—when Chorley came in, a stranger and man not to be trifled with; so that the Post hour expired to no purpose! There was nothing of hurry; except this Dumfries news, which might have relieved an anxiety in you a little sooner.— — Jean seems to have had a tedious and painful, but perhaps at no time dangerous time of it, poor creature: she took ill “early on Friday morning” James says; was ill all day and night till one or two o'clock on Saturday morng: “Dr Adam”2 was extremely attentive, constantly there after Friday noon: about 9 that night, they, being anxious, called in Dr Blacklock,3 who after waiting an hour said that there was nothing wrong, that they must just wait, and all wd be well. A Mrs Renwick4 (whom James praises greatly) seems to be still there.— And in short, I trust we may now consider this anxiety as lifted off from us, and the affair (so far) mercifully over. Poor Jean; she made no complaint, but I dare say was not without her serious apprehensions: I am heartily glad and relieved that it is now over so.

Your Letter found me duly at Addiscombe; thither also came, enclosed, the stamped Letter of these three; that I put into my writing-case, and (being a day behind me at Addiscombe) it was the reason I could not write on Monday. On Monday Mrs Fraser called me down,5 and solemnly delivered the other two Notes; did not however detain me farther; poor little body. She is extremely anxious to find some business for her son,—“business that will at once bring him something in.” I enclose the 3 Notes;—I write today before doing anything else, so as to be sure agt post-time.

I continued steady at Addiscombe, where the weather was of extreme brightness, quietly till Sunday; on Sunday afternoon, packed myself finally together, and came riding home to dinner. The sun, so it happened, veiled himself when I was about Tooting,6 blackish vapours, and a beginning of wind from the East; which phenomena have continued, and strengthened, ever since: very sharp cold weather, with the sun generally hidden till today. I fancy myself perceptibly improved by my rustication and my solitude. It was curious work; left so mute there, and utterly to one's own reflexions and devices. Jane had come out on the Thursday Evening, chiefly to settle my various scores; I persuaded her to stay over next day, and then we walked to the Crystal Palace (walk of 3½miles, half of it thro' fields), no great things of an adventure. I looked again greatly at the sculptures; found that there was in fact otherwise nothing which I in the least cared to look at, after the first survey of 5 minutes. A place for children, I should mainly define it to be, and calculated to please children much: in all other respects. Jane went off on the Saturday morning again; and I next afternoon as you have heard.

Things lie very perverse, and much tumbled, all round me here; and I must now try to what length I can force some order upon them. If that horrid stagnancy of bodily and mental function will but keep away for a while, I hope to do some good, more or less. God knows, there is need enough of it; for I am deep sunk as I have seldom been.

Neuberg yields me his horse till the end of this week;7 nothing loath, for a while, being himself absent; and still he is not much able to ride, having had a fit of biliaries (not beautiful to speak about!) from whh he is just recovering. He was here last Sunday night; perceptibly uglier than ever, as Jane asserted. Browning had come down too, to whom Neuberg could hardly be bridled into handsome behaviour: Browning staid an hour after him; was really entertaining in his way. He has a singularly lively conception of every object that has come before him; and will give you the like, if you patiently endure, and let him haggle and wriggle thro' the strange jungle of loud speech (loud soliloquy, you would say, rather than dialogue) which is his way of communicating it. He has decidedly a good talent;—but is unluckily, and now bids fair to continue, in the valley of the shadow of mere George-Sandism, Mazzini-ism, Leigh Huntism:8 one cannot help it; tho' it is a pity! Tennyson's Maud I have never yet read; I tried while at Farlingay, Fitz having it; but wanted heart to persist. A very mixed grumble seems to be rising from the general Critical Pig's trough over it,9—such as I have seen you excite by kicking on the door, at Scotsbrig, in old times!— — Darwin is here, with a kind of cold; but goes to Shrewsbury next week: I have not yet got sight of him. In fact I have seen nobody, beyond what you hear; nor do I desire it for the present.

We shall be anxious to hear what your travels are, especially when and whitherward you expect to return.— I hope you may contrive to borrow buy or beg for me a Klein somewhere,—that one Vol. of the Klein.10 I could actually return it to any obliging Library: if it is at Weimar, I daresay they wd bountifully consent; but I doubt it is not there. Sorrow on it.— I do not need the Silesian Maps; Reyman's Kreiskarten11 and Stieler make me entirely independent.— You will write to us soon; till I hear I can only say Glück auf dem weg [Good luck on the way].

Your affectionate Brother

T. Carlyle