July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 24 December 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18581224-TC-JCA-01; CL 34: 252-253


Chelsea, 24 decr, 1858—

Dear Sister,

I may as well take this 10 minutes I have to send you the smallest of Letters,—better than none at all. The Dr having quitted us, I must try to be more active in seizing odd moments for that object than formerly.

These two months I have been at my old job; struggling in the most disastrous manner to get on with it,—to get fairly into it; alas I cannot even do that, cannot fairly get my hand in again, nor handsomely begin in the way I could consider promising! During those vacant three months, I had banished the sorrowful affair completely out of my head: if I had not been in danger of sinking altogether, I had better have held on, and lamely gallopped to the end. But it wd have broken the wind of me; I shd have fallen, all fours, upon the highway before getting home!— I do mean however to hold on now, if life be left at all, till I see myself fairly quit of such a job as was never given me before, in my youngest and strongest days. I live altogether alone from my fellow creatures and their ways; I am often very miserable over my sad problem,—and may be said in general to resemble a man sunk to the eyebrows in quagmire, and left to help himself out, in a wet night, miles off any house, if he can!— My affairs have been sadly aggravated by my Horse too. “Horse” means “health” with me; and I have not had quite half a Horse till lately,—scandalous villains1 (as I at last discover) having been changing his corn into gin for themselves this long while back. However, all that is fairly at an end; “persist, persist!” the whole thing will get to an end,—say in a twelvemonth or so, if I can hold out.

Jane is decidedly a little better this winter; sleeps better considerably for most part; and has no cough hitherto or special attack of cold, tho always weak enough, weak as possible almost, were it not for the spirit she has. This is a great kindness of Heaven, surely,—both to herself and to me.

Your James was here last night; gave us a tune or two on the flute; very well again, and very good and honest, poor fellow. He certainly has every appearance of doing faithfully and being successful here. Last night I was introducing him to a Mr Larkin, an excellt young man of mine, who with Mother2 &c all of good quality lives on his side of the Town.3 They went off together in time for the last Omnibus (10.45 p.m. bright moonlight, and the warmest temperature you ever felt at Christmas).

When James goes down into Colvend quarter,4 he will oblige me by making every kind of inquiry for a little patch of ground suitable: Cottage (not too small); keep of a horse too being indispensable, I know not if a field adjoining wd not also be a necessary purchase? Let him consider it in his mind; and prepare himself to give advice. At present I can find time for no exterior enterprise at all: but I do right heartily mean to be away from this, were my sorrow once off my back; and something always draws towards poor old Scotland, far as it is away. To live mostly out of London is always my intention (tho' Jane I think likes better to be here). I would not quit London either, however; not quite;—but shd so like to be able to run from it, quite out of hearing, whenevr I liked!

“ ’Oss Sir!” warning abt Horse 4 or 5 lines ago: I must off. Thanks for yr wristikins; I count on writing again in a week. Adieu dear Jean Yours ever T. Carlyle