August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 28 January 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580128-TC-JAC-01; CL 33: 173-175


Chelsea, Thursday 28 jany, 1858

My dear Brother,

We have frosty weather here, but the gentlest kind of frost for most part,—windless, with a good deal of sun abt midday; nothing but the cold fog to be complained of;—so that my poor Patient does not relapse, but on the contrary goes on with some signs of improvement, in the matter of eating and of sleeping a perceptible improvement; and is, in short, as well as I could expect, in consistency with never getting into fresh air at all.

For my own share, I take very long walks, for whh there is traceable a better capacity (better clearly but not greatly) than there used to be quite before the time of the Horse. But I have no right heart left, after all, and am sad and feckless,—still hanging to my sorrowful enterprise, but in no case to domineer over it, and drive it before me. One gets such a load of reminiscences withal, and dwells so much with the Departed, a solitary creature among the Living, at this stage of one's pilgrimage! I long much to be out of those trifling rubbishes of “History” so-called; and either to do nothing, or something of a piece with my own frame of mind. Nothing here to spur me on, except merely the reluctance to be foiled in one's job of work.— Done with it, Done with it! that is the only recipe or remedy.—

I did apply to Farie about J. Aitken1 and his Liverpool affairs: Farie was as prompt as possible; I sent to Jean and2 “introduction” for the young lad to Farie's Brother at Liverpool;3—and from Farie there came last night a reply of his Brother's (whh I am to return), professing considerable alacrity, tho' no assurance of immediate success. He seems to think, Glasgow might have done as well for a young fellow, if well sought into. You may tell Jean of this Farie reply (she knows of the rest) if there be ready opportunity.

Tait is still painting away at that interminable “interior”; but happily he now does it at his own house; and gives no bother here for many weeks past. Only borrows my “dressing-gown”;—sent yesterday for “the pair of shoes” I had on,—more power to his elbow!4

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A Chelsea Interior by Robert Tait (detail)

Courtesy of the National Trust Photographic Library and Michael Boys


Jane does not heed his “pleura” any farther:5—she has got some benefit, she says, from applying “medicated cotton” (whh seems merely Cotton thoroughly cleaned and teased, so that a stratum of it will lie like a fine cataplasm or almost poultice): she says the sore place is decidedly easier since that application.

There was a zealous but very dull attempt at “illumination” the other night for that Prussian Marriage;6—interrupted me in the end of my walk: that was all! Neuberg came last night (with or for some “copying”), then a youth called Lushington; night before was Ruskin; one's nights are good for little here.— — I intend to write to Jamie7 one of these days; with a Book I have I have8 got for him. One is so chased for time! This Note I have done while my shirt was airing.— Love to everybody. Your affectionate

T. Carlyle