July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 13 November 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18581113-TC-JCA-01; CL 34: 239-240


Chelsea, 13 Novr, 1858—

Dear Jean,

I must insist on that 1/6! I was far from suspecting that you would suspect me of suspecting that you “grudged” &c: but in fine the Book was meant to be franked, all the Gift Copies of it; and this one must be so, like the others. Mary, I find, has now got her Copy; some dud of a Bookseller at Annan1 had kept it lying for almost a month. Jenny also, in Canada, has got hers, and, we may hope, Sandy also.2 On the whole that petty affair, loaded with whatever blunders by the follies of surrounding mankind, may be considered done, as heavier portions of the business are.

I do not hear any more, and indeed have heard hitherto next to nothing but nonsense, as to “the popularity, the” &c &c:3 my next division of money will fall due a little earlier on account of it, and that is the one advantage it has (coupled with more drawbacks than appear at once) to a serious human soul.

I am praying daily I were begun to Part 2d: but as yet I shudder to engage again, and only keep poking about the outskirts, timidly skirmishing, or hardly even that. I have still a formidable two years ahead, if I live so long; and after that, I mean to work, at least hard work, no more, however long I live. My scheme is, To get mainly away altogether out of this ineffable pluister, where there is less and less left that is helpful or delightful to me. I oftenest think of Scotland for a retreat, tho' it is so far away,—too far indeed! I wish, however, James wd make practical computation, some time soon, as to that of a cottage (good & sizeable) on the Colvend shore:4 grass for a horse &c;—and I always think some reasonable female creature might, with care and for honest recompense, be got, to keep the household in trim when one kindled it there. I have to say generally, There could not well any Son of Adam give a worse account as to Household Service in his time and country, than I here in the crown of the “New Era,”5—more power to it!

Poor Jane took cold the other day; risked herself too far, making rearrangements in the House, poor little soul; and now this is the third morning she has to report herself, “Never slept at all.” Alas, alas! It was all about hanging of a Picture here (Lord Ashbn had given her the Original of that “Little Drummer,”6 a truly beautiful big Picture,7 and it needed to be “hung”),—I almost wish it had gone down the river rather! But we will hope, we will hope some improvement soon.— Lord An is just about re-marrying. His Bride is Scotch, near 30 years his junr, no immense favourite of ours, and coming girt with very sorrowful memories: but it must be owned he had need of somebody to take charge of him. Adieu dear Sister. Yours ever T. Carlyle

We sometimes see James;8 and hear always the best accounts of him,—as perhaps the Doctor will make you aware this day.— — I wish Symington wd keep his Book:9 it is nothing but “a fluff of feathers”;10 and one cannot quite handily write him that. It wd need to be good indeed if I cd go much into it just now. I will try for Bowie, sometime soon if I can find nothing.11