1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 12 January 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550112-TC-JCA-01; CL 29: 235-236


Chelsea, 12 jany, 1855—

Dear Jean,

I got the wristikins yesterday, and wore them when I went out: the Letter was marked “Too late,” and did not come till afternoon. I found my pretty little wristikins very neat, and comfortable under the cuff; they will serve to keep me warm, in their turn, during the cold days; and often bring me in mind of your kind care of me. I am very grateful for your constant affection to me. I wish you could send me a new “thicker skin”! But that is not possible;—that would not do either, in all respects.

You must not knit me any Comforter. I got one given me, knit expressly, several years ago,1 and have never worn it once, not liking wool about the chin, for its fretting qualities: the thing lies idle, and is like to lie, in the corner of a drawer. I do not need anything more at present; “nae mair o' nocht,” as poor old Poole was wont to say.2— Unless indeed you could go some day, and buy me two of the best and biggest Sponges that are to [be]3 had in Dumfries, and let me pay them by stamps or a Post-Office order? Of the two I have at present for bathing myself, one was a Dumfries one, and visibly a better bargain than its London fellow: and both are getting very weak, and nearly done.— But this too is mere laziness on my part, and hatred to go into any shop here; nor do I know the weight of Sponges by post; nor, in fact, is there the least hurry about it: so don't mind at all, till there come a chance at least. For the rest a couple of pairs of shoe-thongs (Whangs, like the last double pair you sent,4 one pair of whh is still to the fore) wd not be unwelcome, by a good opportunity. I am getting a pair of old-fashioned latchet shoes painfully forced into existence for myself, in such a form as not to torment me, if possible. A certain poor little-toe, almost as unfortunate as your poor forefinger, often raises my private indignation against the distraction of Sutors, in these weeks, and really plagues me a great deal!—

For the rest, I am sadly bilious, weak, and weather is dark and harsh: however, I do crawl on a little with my work; actually in motion, tho' at a snail's pace;—and that is a consolation for everything!—

I know nothing of the mad nowt Gilfillan, have done nothing, said nothing, thought nothing, about him, these many years;5 nor in fact is his buillying in the least audible in these parts. A horse-whipping might indeed be serviceable, at least it is the only thing that could; but I doubt even that; and fancy the raging quadruped is irretrievably bound to the lair hole,—Bedlam if not a worse:—so we will let him roar and run.

Here is Jack's last Letter, “a very languid one,” as he defines it. Poor Mrs Edward Irving, I had told him (as you may gather), was lately dead. A poor unbeautiful creature, soul and body, yet with something well-meaning in her too,—had not her “good fortune” (as it was once thought) strangely perverted everything for her, and rendered life unmanageable!— Jim must be patient a bit; I think he had better wait a good while then go back to his Jews.6 I wish I could help in any way.— Goodbye dear Sister. Ever yours

T. Carlyle