October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 5 March 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570305-TC-JCA-01; CL 32: 96-97


Chelsea, 5 March, 1857—

Dear Jean,

However hurried, I ought to write you a word to quiet your anxieties whh I see you are beginning to entertain about our poor Patient here. She is really very weakly, and suffers and has suffered a great deal,—coughing (frequent and irritative tho’ not deep), want of sleep (always more or less, sometimes total), then want of strength, of appetite, and all manner of wants. She has really had a very sickly winter, and is weak and thin as you can suppose: but I have never been in serious alarm about her either, nor has she ever been,—we trust always with confidence in “the good weather,” if it would but come. The other night (just about the time you wrote) she did thoroughly frighten Miss Jewsbury and the Maid,—even I myself, more used to such phenomena, was not without qualms, so violent was the affair: a violent 3 or 4 hours of incessant retching (without anything brought up), with spasms, nausea, and frightful pain;—right glad we all were to see that terminate, and some sleep follow, about 2 in the morning!1 I hoped and tried to believe, all the while, it might be some salutary clearing of the liver, and a crisis to the disorder: she is accordingly perceptibly better ever since; and I am again flattering myself we see land: but there is no counting in such cases! I have spoken to her more than once about sending for a Doctor; but she always pushes that away: and indeed it is too true I do not know any person here whose advice I could reckon certainly to be worth one doit in regard to such a case. So we keep hoping, and doing a very little plain medicine, on our own score. This is a true statement of the matter; about whh you need not alarm yourself: let us trust that before long I may be able to send you some better report.

For my own share I reckon myself to be obscurely yet perceptibly improved from what I was. No man can ride more diligently and regularly 2½ or 3 hours every day (today I had a beautiful solitary canter in Richmond Park,—6 miles away2); I am perfectly quiet too, my whole industry (which alas is not great!) is directed on the horrible Job I have (by far the hatefullest and most disgustingly fashous contemptible and difficult I ever was in): it goes on slower than snails; but I do drive it, and will inch by inch end it if I live!— No more at present. The weather is dry, cool, sometimes pleasantly sunny. All the world is in great tift abt change of ministry, and Dissolution of Parlt that there is to be:3 I cannot pretend to care one farthing about any such matter. Fraser is gone by Scotsbrig.4 God bless you and yours dear Sister— T. Carlyle