August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 26 March 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580326-TC-JAC-01; CL 33: 194-196


Chelsea, 26 March, 1858—

Dear Brother,

I was very glad of your Note yesterday morning; giving me a view of poor old Edinburgh again, in the sunny Spring weather. You will find that pretty much as good as London for a variety; and it has the advantage of being far nearer hand. I can hardly flatter myself with the thought of seeing you here this season; and must put up with that as with various other disappointments. Indeed I am not worth seeing, nor is anybody much worth being seen by me in my present mood and predicament! I never was so solitary intrinsically; I refuse all invitations; and except meeting people on the street, have next to no communication with external fellow creatures. I walk (with difficulty) long stretches, nothing but Nero attending me:—I begin to find I must have my Horse back again, one of these days; my poor inner-man reminds me that such will be my duty!—

I am sorry to report that since yesterday my poor Jane has caught new cold, and is flung down again,—worse probably than before! She had never sunk so weak this year; and we hoped, when the singularly good weather came, it was all over. But within this day or two there has been a change of temperature: and this is where we are,—“no sleep at all” last night, nothing but the sofa and silence for my poor partner. We are changing our servant too; Anne going off (somewhat in the dorts, and in truth an unsatisfactory creature for a long time back,—better to go): but how the new one (a Scotch Inverness subject, of promising gemuth [good nature], but inexperienced in house-work)1 is somewhat of a problem. Poor Jane keeps a wonderful heart, whatever comes or goes. Few people that I have seen suffer their allotment in this world in a handsomer manner. I still hope this relapse will not last long.— She has “marmalade” going on today; a Chelsea artist doing it on whom she can depend;2 tho' herself not able to oversee!3

My progress in the Book is very untoward; so utterly feckless am I, so disgustingly troublesome is every paragraph of that untowardly job! I have often thot it wd fairly kill me;—but I do not now. If the Printers wd despatch, I could still see it out in May (barring accidents): but the Printers won't: they are getting slower even; and I fear it will certainly not be done “in May.” I will not stay here in the hot weather whatever become of it.— Here is a snip of a Proof; whh will teach you what jumbling and groping about I continually have, with things more contemptible to me than to another.— — I shall, however, wade thro' the quagmire, ugliest in created Nature; and even see a ditch left behind me (perhaps) with a thread of clear water trickling in it. A sublime comfort indeed!—

Wilkinson's Annotator is Larkin, my excellt helper in these Printing Enterprises;—makes maps, indexes &c &c; makes everything; in fact one of the best men I have almost ever seen; and a very indispensable blessing to me. He is of Swedenborgian upbringing; much detests the Dilettante Swedenborgm of Wilkinson,—indignatio fecit marginalia [indignation makes him write in the margins],4 whh we found amusing & clever. Wilkn I believe is quite given up to rapping, to—in fact to quacking & being quacked, I believe, for Homeopathy &c &c accompany all that of the spirits.5 Lytton Bulwer,6 also, is a “medium”; so Robt Chambers;7 so—What a nemesis there is in things!

I am very sorry nothing yet turns up at Liverpool for poor Jamie junr.8 Can you contrive nothing for furtherance? Of course there is no resource but continuing to wait, to search, to try!— If you forward this to Jean, it will be worth a penny to her: my hurry is immense.

Yours ever affectionately

T. Carlyle