January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 30 October 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18591030-TC-JCA-01; CL 35: 245-246


Chelsea, 30 octr 1859—

Dear Jean,

Your obliging 3 Nightshirts came by Parcel Post yesterday; James junr had announced them a few days before,—two or three days after we had had the satisfaction of seeing him again, looking brisk and well to do. He promised us his Father “in the course of the week”: but that, it appears, is all gone aback again.

The Shirts as a proof of your assiduous affection to me are extremely welcome, dear Sister; and there is no doubt they will do duty with effect when called upon, and be welcome in another humbler way. By the kindness of The Gill Lasses,1 or from some other source conjoined, I found myself laird of at least 3 perhaps 4 effectual new fellows (besides the old lumber, mended or thrown away): so that I now possess either 7 or 6,—enough to serve me all the rest of my life, I think; at least abundance richly for the years that now are! Many thanks for all your care of so useless an old cracked vessel—

I am now about to employ you on another clothing operation,—clothing, namely, for the feet; feet apt to grow cold, on horseback in the winter twilights at this season. You must understand I have most elaborate pair of galoche-overalls (cloth and leather, fruit of profound study by the Tailor2 and me last winter, and of a disgusting expense withal); overalls which button up far over the knee (beautiful thick “military blue”) and end in a pair of leather galoches, ready to take in any reasonable boot I can be wearing; and of such soles &c that you can walk about with them (in a steady but clogged manner) along the muddy streets on dismounting. They are really a protection from the cold, especially handy in dry times. I find, however, that here as elsewhere, “hard to hard” (leather to leather) does not do; and that a soft outer covering wd have been much better,—failing whh, a soft inner equipment, not boots, but woolleny matter, is all that I have of resourced.3 I accordingly keep on my leather slippers (very thin supple articles), draw over these a pair of old loose-knit “stocking-boot” socks (packing in the skirts of the trousers); and then buckle on my overalls: whh plan is clearly the best. But now attend, after this preliminary of such length:

1o. The “Stockingboot” socks (a “rig-and-fur”4 article, intended for some such purpose,—sitting outside a coach, or the like) were given me by poor Alick many years ago; and now when they wd come to be of such use, the moths have nearly quite done for them!— I want a new pair of socks of that kind; best stuff and structure you can get, plenty of spring, plenty of size: I will pay your Artist whatever she can earn by taking pains upon them.

2o. Much better than any slippers (far softer and far warmer) wd be a pair of orthodox old “roon-shoon” (list-shoes),5 especially if they were knit high in the heel quarter, so as to fasten round the ancle, like a pair of “quarter boots.” That wd be a nice thing, with or without one's “socks” over them!—

In short, I want you to consider these two articles, and see if you can find stuff and people fit, and bring them to pass, on my behalf. I send the measure, taken and described as near as I can: measure for shoes of course directs that of socks too. Do your best; but needn't hurry either!

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