August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 28 December 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18571228-TC-JAC-01; CL 33: 139-140


Chelsea, 28 decr, 1857—

My dear Brother

I have been too long in writing; but there really is no limit to the hurry and confusion I am kept in here;—very weak and spirit less, too, for most part;—and in fact there was nothing passing whh much called me out into writing.

Your tour to the North wd be a pleasant break in the stillness of yr Scots-brig life: but probably you wd be glad to get back again into quiet; for I suppose you have got used to it by this time, and may prefer the comparative absence from annoyance to any satisfaction you could get from variety or society. You have no mention of a tour this way, of late? It is about a year since you have not seen London nor London you:—but indeed there is but little to invite a quiet soul to, in this more and more chaotic element.

We had the two Miss Welshes from Auchtertool for an eight days lately. They were bound for the Isle of Wight, whither the Younger had been ordered for chance of benefit by the “better air.” She is not well, poor thing; but I do not fancy better air will do much for her: change of scene, and interruption to the monotony of indolent ennui may perhaps be beneficial for the time,—and that may have been what the Dr. really meant by his order.1— The poor Lasses are very innocent amiable creatures: they did me no ill while here; but were a little hard upon “Cousin,” who is not fit for much supervision and House-generalship in her present weak state. They went off, Thursday last,—forgetting only a “hamper” here;—they got safe to Ventnor,2 to certain Liddells who are there, with whom they are to stay for a week till they get lodgings of their own.

We seem about to get into frost, our first of this season; and I am anxious about my poor Helpmate in regard to that. She is very feckless; tho' full of spirit, when she can get the least chance; sleep is still a scarcity; and cold temperature seems to tell on her at once.— I am actually getting into the last “Book” of my Ms. for this bout! Nothing can come more ungainly than every bit of that unfortunate work has done; no end to difficulty, to despicable fash, abt the despicable enterprise: but, by Heaven's help, there begins to be daylight thro' this First Part of it,—as above said. The Printer is nearly thro Book I of Vol II; and he cannot now catch me, tho' marching with uncommon steadiness. “By the end of May,” I hope to be safe in some rustic solitude, “upon milk diet,” and in blessed depth of “silence,” for an unlimited period!— You can tell Jamie and Isabella, the meal proves excellent; and gives one a morsel of innocent supper every night; a thing to be reckoned among the blessings of the 24 hours. We were busy on the Ham too (for which, I hope, Jane duly thanked the kind donors!),—when a body of eggs &c from the Gill suspended that attack for some time. We are much indebted for kind remembrances from those who love us tho' hidden from them.

All mortals are tumbling about, in a state of drunken Saturnalia delirium or quasi-delirium, according to their various sorts: a very strange method of “thanking God for sending them a Redeemer”;—a set singularly worth “redeeming,” too, you wd say! I spent Xmas and the two days following in grim contention, all day each time, with the most refractory set of Proofsheets I expect in this Work;— —tho sternly done. Tait has finished his “Picture” of the Interior; at least he has taken it away,—thank Heaven. “Leviathan” cannot be launched at all!3 We think of going to see it some day for a holiday,—would, but could we?— Sad remembrance of another Xmas4 present to me, also, at all moments. Which made a strange combination, peculiarly tragic when I had time to see it from the distance;—like a man set to whittle cherrystones and toy boxes in the Valley of the Shadow of Death!— Adieu dear Brother: my sheet is done. Write to me; give my love & regards that do not decay to the Friends you are among. T. Carlyle

Ruskin sent me two “Lectures,” delivered in Manchester:5 about “encouraging the growth of art” &c: not bad of their kind. Do you incline to spend a groatsworth of stamp upon them?—