October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 7 December 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18561207-TC-JCA-01; CL 32: 43-44


Chelsea, 7 decr, 1856—

My dear Sister,

I should have written you half a line, however brief, before this time. It is impossible for you to exaggerate the hurry and confusion I am perpetually kept in, during these bad days and months,—likely to continue long yet!

I send you a Photograph, to replace the spoiled one you have: it seems, all that first set were chemically spoiled in the doing, and are liable to fade entirely away. I do not find it quite easy to get new ones: but here is yours; I have still one left for myself, and one for some other in need.

Jane continues weak and a prisoner; she is gone today in an Omnibus (weather being all from S.W. again, and almost like a wet summer); and this is about the first time she has been out at all for a couple of long months past. However, her sleep does seem to be returning; she is clearly a good deal better.

My own hurry has been greatly increased by the sudden downbreak of a kind Friend here, who had undertaken that “Edition of my works,” and was to leave me alone with Fredk (company enough for a man), without care about that other. And now,—alas!—his Brother has suddenly fallen into a river, while coming home one evg; has perished, and left all his affairs in a heap:—so that my poor Friend has to fling “the Edition” too altogether on my back,1—could I but once get fairly hold of it all; but even that is impossible hitherto, and only shall be.— — My German Clerk2 will, I can hope and guess, become very useful, especially in these circumstances: a most willing “galloway,"3 but none of the expertest, none of the strongest-backed ride him gently!

Nor have I been lucky with my Physical Horse! An excellent animal, of whom I had pressing need; was got after, infinite thrice-wearisome negociations and delays; I mounted him, at the last, Tuesday gone a fortnight; gallopped off with him, joyful (tho’ the price was £52 10 ready money), joyful in to the country lanes: alas, a shoe had been loose; went off with me, before I had gone far; I had to come creeping home again. And then,—only think of that,—the farrier, in reshoeing him, had knocked (like a blockhead) one of the old nails, not taken out, completely home into the hoof: so that the creature had to go to a Horse-Doctor, his hoof to be deeply pared away, poulticed &c;—and I have never seen him since; only expect to see him tomorrow,—and £5 or more to pay! One is not lucky at all points.

But I am getting on, and will get on,—Can “gar myself do it"4 (thank God, like my Father before me): and that is a very great comfort. If it were not for health, I shd fear nothing. But there is often enough a ghastly sinking of the spirits (state of liver does it) which is hard to shift with. Write to me. I hear nothing from Scotsbrig. Dr5 sent some appendages of the Saddle, and they have come safe,—in 12 days time! God bless you, dear Sister.

Yours /

T. Carlyle