The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO SAMUEL AITKEN ; 13 April 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400413-TC-SAI-01; CL 12: 107-108


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea / London, 13 April, 1840

My dear Sir,

I am about to employ you on rather a singular commission; which, however, I doubt not you will execute with your wonted good-nature.

Close folded within this Paper is a card containing a gold half-sovereign. I am in pressing want of Tobacco-pipes; this small gold coin is to procure me, thro' your kindness, Tobacco-pipes from Edinburgh!— Down in the Canongate, not far from John Knox's House, there used to dwell and labour that eminent Pipe-maker Thomas White.1 He, very probably, is no longer alive; but his representatives, his manufactory, must be still there; and pipes of the same eminent fabric. The kind of pipes I was wont to get there were his best and biggest; 3/6 a gross.— You now see clearly what it is that I solicit of you?

Having well fixed in your mind that “Thomas White” or the “late Thomas White” is the man, and “3/6 per-gross” the kind,—there is nothing more to be added; except the propriety of straitly charging the people to be most careful in the packing; and then to ship by the first Steamer—for my hurry is considerable. You must understand, I had ordered from Glasgow no fewer than 5 gross of a still nobler sort of pipes than White's; but the wretched people having packed them in a deep box (instead of a broad shallow one) and with saw-dust (in place of fine hay), the whole concern arrived here in the state of dust and ruin, some 45 pipes safe in all: this makes me anxious for speed; anxious too that the Whites may pack better,—as indeed they were usually wont to do.

I write in such haste, I hardly know what I have said; but it seems to me you will not fail to decipher what I mean; and I know well you will, in your old manner, set about doing it straightway. As many best pipes as 10/ will buy and pack: that is it.

We are pretty well here; I am to lecture in May,—a thing that terrifies me somewhat. I ride diligently every day, to get into clearer spirits at least!

We had your friend the Bishop2 lately; who seemed to be immensely refreshed by the smell of our smoke, by the sight and sound of our tumult. It is the way with men! To him the roaring Strand is medicine; to me here Minto Craig seems not unlike a kind of Heaven!— Good keep you always; my wife joins in kindest salutations

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle