October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 11 May 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570511-TC-JCA-01; CL 32: 144-145


Chelsea, 11 May, 1857—

Dear Sister,—I received that Letter (by T. C. in Canada) from the Dr this morning,1 with order to forward it to you directly. It is a very good Letter, and you will have pleasure in reading it. Tom is in a field fit for a strong young fellow;—and is very wise indeed to prefer the rugged independent plough to the contemptible implement recommended as substitute. That of boiling maple-sugar in the bush, and reading Homer by the light of the sticks, is quite great to me. I have sent Tom off his Cromwell (on hearing that the other has arrived): your Jim gets his, I doubt not, regularly?—

We are in our usual way of health here; Jane mostly a prisoner, but free of cold, and only waiting the sun in order to get out again, and gather some strength. We have had the bitterest three weeks of weather I can remember for the season: but today it is Summer all over; and May, I hope, will still do itself credit. I have fairly had to change my waistcoat, and cd stand other changes, tho’ fire was indispensable two days ago.— My work is getting on laboriously, and in general ill: I am going to Press, however, this week; will do Two Volumes (half the work) off my hands; then wait to gather strength for the other Two,2—or leave them lying altogether, if I be not stronger. Never was such an undoable work cut out for me; and never was I in such case for doing any work whatever. But if we hold up till this time twelvemont[h];3 if we can;—and we must be canny! An immense rubbish mound will be rolled off one's poor downbroken old heart!—

The Death of Lady Ashburton, which you will see noted in the Examiner,4 was altogether unlooked-for by me, tho’ a great deal of confused rumour, and direct tidings too, circulated round us, all winter, on the illness whh came on at Nice. I parted from her in October; fancying she & a group of friends5 she had gathered were to have the pleasantest winter; and it ends in this way. The event comes heavy upon me, and stretches far and wide as I consider it. A lesson sent me, and truly a very sad one; and a loss in several respects such as I need not hope to replace.6 Since our dear Mother's death, there has nothing like it come. “God sanctify it to those concerned!” as my Mother would have prayed,—the one wise prayer.— — Adieu, dear Jean: I hope to send you another line in not many days. Your affectionate

T. Carlyle