January 1835-June 1836

The Collected Letters, Volume 8


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 29 June 1836; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18360629-TC-JAC-01; CL 8:363-365.


Chelsea, 29th June 1836—

My dear Brother,

After a frank from me so very lately, there is some risk of your getting almost a fright with this. Fear nothing; nothing is wrong.

The night before last our Threepenny handed us in that Letter from Lady Clare; announcing that she goes off a fortnight earlier. Whether it was worth while getting a frank for that, you may question; but that is the sole matter. We calculate that it may expedite you out of Annandale: at all events, it seems good that you know it.

The von Stettens were not at home when I called that day: they sent the inclosed Answer,1 full of German politeness; which was probably, in the present hot biliary weather, “just as well.” Yet they were good people, to judge by the look; and I shall really be glad if they come, especially you being here.

Jane is not at all well, any more than when you were here. Mrs Austin talks of a voyage to Boulogne for her; but from that quarter I have never yet seen much help come. This morning I was talking to Jane about her going to Templand for a few weeks; but she takes no hold of that. Her ailment is being sick far too often (I mean as women are sick): but that I judge to be the symptom only. Dispiritment, weakness, hot weather.— The Sterlings (Stimabiles) have asked her to go to Paris with them in August; which she has undertaken to do: this she says instead of Templand will set her up. Would to Heaven it might!

I have cleaned out the Garden, which looks very tolerable, waiting for you. Today therefore I must begin my task. I have swallowed a pill, a quarter of an hour ago, tho' it is yet but morning: infer that I am out of order still. Yet these two days of toil have stilled the mind of me not a little: I am far better now; at worst mournful, not indignant and rabid. One strong last pull and that weariest of all things is done. The thought that I am now in the last stage of it, every word advancing to the end, makes me bound again. Courage, Courage!

This morning there came a pack of Letters from the writer Lamond,2 the friend of poor Glen at Glasgow: Letters from Glen to his Brother. To me they do not seem very different from the old sort; tho' this Lamond sees rather better hopes in them.3 Have you any thought of riding up as far to see the poor fellow? You would get little good of him; yet you would see him and satisfy yourself.

James Mill is gone the way of man. He had died on Thursday last,4 before I wrote to you; I heard it before your Letter went off. I have not heard a syllable about Mill since or for a week before: I fancy he did not announce the event to anybody but a few of the deceased's friends. Last night I thought to hear something of it from Mrs Austin; but she—was abroad over all the Earth (it was a rout), and nothing but cackle, cackle was to be had there.— James Mill has left a painful but not a dastardly or a dishonest life behind him: he finds strong censors, strong praisers. O dear, what a thrice beggarly business this earthly destiny of mans and of all men's is!

Sir W. Hamilton seems to be in keen contest with Combe the Phre[n]ologist for the Edinr Logic Chair!5 A printed sheaf of testimonials from him arrived here yesterday; for what special end is not clear. Scull-doctrine becoming Logic is surely a very grand phenomenon. They can fight it out between them: if I wished to fling inextinguishable ridicule on that old Alma Mater (an Arida Nutrix [Dry Nurse] she was the old b——!) of mine in Edinr, then [Combe?] should have the preferment without a moment's hesitation.— This brings to mind, however, what was the only thing I had business with: that Fraser sent you a Book of Combe's6 (something about “the mind,” or such as that) a day or two after you went. It is laid up on your shelf, and awaits you.

When will you write? When will you come? The weather is very hot within these two days, and will probably be hotter: but there is a fine breeze still; the evenings, after sunset and thro' night, are really grand and delightful. I came home last night near eleven, and saw. As already hinted, it was Mrs Austin's Party, Mrs Austin's rout. Having already refused several times, I had to go. There were Germans, Counts, Bröckhaus the Leipzig Bookseller, Mrs Buller, blonde and broadcloth what the house could hold: I staid an hour; then got my broadbrim, and took the liberty of retiring to natural rest. My amazement what diversion people get in these things remains considerable.—

But alas, dear Jack, I tittle tattle; and really ought to be thinking of at least the attempt at some work. My love my best love to Annandale, beginning with my dear Mother, whom I hope you will still report well. I drank the last of Alick's whisky out yesterday: tell him so with thanks. There still remains a bottle entitled “Inverness”; which I will break when you come.— I expect to hear from you at least with almost no delay.— You have seen Grahame as well as Ben Nelson? My compliments and kindest wishes to the good Burnswark; also to Ben. God bless you all! Your affectionate

T. Carlyle

Jane has been out to walk; salutes you all: too pale-looking!

[JWC's postscript:]

Dear John I am not at all sure that I will not come to Scotland for two or three weeks—but dont put any body on expecting me until I have made up my mind which will be within the next four and twenty hours I calculate.

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