October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 26 November 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18451126-TC-JCA-01; CL 20: 62-63


Bay House, Alverstoke, / Hants 26 Novr, 1845—

Dear Jean,

We got hither on the day specified, which was Saturday gone a week; and have now got ourselves moderately adjusted to our new quarters; from which, in considerable haste, I will write you a word about our proceedings and condition.

On that subject indeed there is not much to be said; for our whole life here might be defined as one continual course of Handsomely doing nothing; which to persons occasionally busy is not so absurd now and then. This is a beautiful fantastic new Mansion, close by the shore of a beautiful narrow arm of the Sea, looking over to the towns and hills of the Isle of Wight (some four or five miles off) with all the Shipping of Portsmouth coursing to and fro on it as their winds and destinations prescribe. Our beach for miles on either hand is clear flinty gravel, with whin [furze] bushes and beautiful tracts of green sward,—sprinkled a little with fantastic sea-mansions and bathing-quarters; but for the rest very solitary, very agreeable to one that wishes to be let alone. Our two hosts, Mr Baring and his Wife, are generally alone with us; excellent friendly polite people; there are horses, carriages, all manner of conveniences:—and tho' the multitude of Flunkies and general parade of the place somewhat confuses us, we contrive to do very well; and shall be able, I think, to do the hourying1 function with tolerable effect till the time for handsomely ending it arrive. A good swift ride every day is a very great convenience to me: I ought to grow better, if I had once learned to sleep, which however I have not yet quite succeeded in. Jane is pretty well; and does well with the Lady, who is a very great, noble and imperious person, capable I think of being either all sunshine of the brightest, or all lightning of the hottest: not every one that she can do with! In case of “lightning,” of course, there would remain for us nothing but the Railway Train, and foggy Chelsea again!—

The Cromwell is coming out in London tomorrow. You will get it in the beginning of the month.2—— Pray tell James to address the Courier direct to Alick, “Brantford, Hamilton, Upper Canada”; I can get no good of it here, and there are considerable delays. I have never even learned what became of Beck.3 Is the little Boy quite well again? I had a small Note from our good old Mother,—pretty well. Tell Mr Aird that I attended to his bidding.4 Write me a little Note, dear Jean. And so farewell. Ever your affecte

T. Carlyle