The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 29 April 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510429-TC-JCA-01; CL 26: 75-76


Chelsea, 29 April, 1851—

Dear Jean,

I got Alick's Letter from Jack, as you suppose; but, by an oversight of Jane's who is usually so perfect a character, it has unluckily fallen aside these two days, and cannot by all our exertion be discovered just at present! Surely I think it will turn up again; and, in that case, you shall directly have it. Or, if the point is important, tell us so, and we must and will institute a more searching inquiry, and force a rediscovery.— It was a very good kind of Letter: a practical world all going on there, better or worse, round poor Alick, and wearing a tolerable aspect,—except that, as usual, the proportion of “knaves” he was beset with seemed a little in excess!— Poor fellow, it was an excellent thing that he got across thither, and found a shelter for his bairns and self, who wd have had a poor outlook on this side of the water. There, I do hope, the[y]1 have all a good chance to do well.

Directly after your Note about Jenny, came one from the Doctor, (yesterday morning) to the like effect, inclosing Jenny's own Letter to him,—and stating that our Mother had valiantly reconciled herself to the expedition as the best course in actual circumstances. This last fact completes the decision of the business: poor little Jenny will go her way, since she has resolved on it; and nothing is now left us but to further, and help her on, by all the kind offices we can. In truth, tho' it makes one sad, I cannot say our poor little sister is not right. She behaved very well in her difficult circumstances at Dumfries; but was always incurably uncomfortable, and could no[t use he]r talents and gifts (which are very considerable in domestic affairs and otherwise) to any great account. She may well make more of her life in America, and is not likely to make less:—nay, at the very worst, should all go as ill with her there as can be apprehend, she can return, and resume her old post here; anything that depends on me towards that is a constant quantity for her, while I continue.— — I have written to Jack to this effect; and requested him to examine practically what can be done to help her, and to let us in the best way do it. The sum sent, “£16,” is evidently as you say, altogether inadequate for a comfortable passage to N. York: and if she were to arrive at N. York, and find things wrong there! Jack must take measures to rectify all that.

Yesterday Jane sent off, by rail to your care, a Parcel (containing some cloth etceteras, I think): you are to pay it, and mark the charge down to me;—I know not whether Jane [wrote] to you about it; but that is the special reason of my writing today. Give my brotherly love to poor Jenny; and say I do not in the least disapprove this step she is taking, and am and continue always the same to her. I will write to herself the first day I have leisure: she, if she want anything, can of course at any time write to me.

The “velvet” &c in the frame of the Medallion pleases Jane's taste very much; only she seems to scunner a little at the encompasment of gilding, or gilt stucco-work,—fears, I suppose, that the gilding may be too glorious, and degenerate into the gingerbread style! Of which I trust there is no danger at all;—only you may as well keep it in your eye, too.

Today I am to go riding; I have the offer of a ride,—coming in not many minutes; and my poor nerves, a little fluttery at the prospect, may perhaps be improved by it! I can say nothing more at present; but rest (with kind love to you all)—Your affectionate,

T. Carlyle