The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 5 October 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18411005-TC-JCA-01; CL 13: 269-270


Chelsea, 5 October, 1841—

Dear Sister,

Many thanks for your braw gray Glengarry Cap;1 which, greatly to the surprise of the Postman, arrived yesterday. Jane called me down stairs specially to look at it, to say what it could be: for the general rule is, that I am not to come down for Letters, but stay here at my work till the day's task is done; the Postman flings in his ware thro' a slit we have contrived for him, and passes on without so much as knocking. I tore open the package, and disclosed our new Glengarry! It fits excellently well, is much approved of in regard to appearance; and indeed will altogether fulfil very well the function of a winter-cap. What is singular, I had just two days before sent word to Alick that he must get me the best attainable Glengarry, and put it in along with cargo of Scotsbrig meal. Had you waited till then, you might have saved your sixteen-pence of postage!2 It is a queer thing this penny post.— As to the comb, it was not mine at all but our Mother's: if I can get it done here, I will send it back to her by a similar conveyance.

We are going on very tolerably since our return; as quiet as possible, much quieter than we anywhere were in the country. There are hitherto only few acquaintances got back to Town: on the whole, I often say, the fewer the better! Jane is busy getting carpets, window-blinds and other equipments, chiefly for this my “Library,” ready against the winter campaign: I feel a terrible necessity for getting to some sort of real effectual labour, and my hand, alas, is much out. There is nothing for it but to bore away; to insist upon succeeding, and take no denial.3

We had the Doctor here one night about a week ago; he had come running up, he and his Patient and another of their party, from Brighton by a new railway just opened; they went down again next day. It is sixty miles off; but the journey is accomplished in less than two hours. Very fast travelling;—nay I heard last night that there had been a fatal frightful accident already on that railway, and several lives lost; but none of our people, thank Heaven, could be concerned in it.4 Jack seemed well and hearty; his work nothing worse than wearisome: he thought it likely they would return hither in a fortnight or so (from the present date), and take a house for the winter. We had a Newspaper from him yesterday.

Poor James Fraser the Bookseller is dead; on Saturday last,5 after long sickness: I know not how my affairs stand on his Books—but I expect that all will be straight and correct there: poor James; it is a mournful and a solemn thing for me, this loss of him in middle course; I think he could only be some five and thirty; he was an innocent-hearted, gleg [eager], accurate little man. Ah me!

Your account of Jenny and the rest is very welcome to me. I shall depend on you chiefly for news especially about such matters. The chief thing I apprehend for Jenny at present is the frightful dampness of the new Gill house. I left some directions about getting a chauffer [portable stove] and coke-cinders to burn in it, before she should enter the place: if you or James can afford any furtherance there, pray do it. Rob is got well away; he may perhaps improve where he is. You must go down and see Jenny with your eyes before very long, and report to me.— I understand your “pa[v]ing of granite,” and approve of it!— Adieu, dear Jean. Commend us to James and the Household.

Your affectionate Brother, /

T. Carlyle