January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


JWC TO [JAMES CARLYLE THE YOUNGER] ; 31 October 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18591031-JWC-JCY-01; CL 35: 248-249


5 Cheyne Row / Chelsea [late October? 1859]

My dear—what shall I say?—COUSIN!—That will do I think! As for “Aunt,” it is out of the question I assure you!—“Aunt” to a great grown up man like you—! It is, upon my word, too heavy a responsibility for me!— My dear Cousin then; please to tell your Father with my love, that the meal and hams are arrived safe, and rejoiced over with “a reasonably good thankfulness” (as Oliver Cromwell might say)1 But I dont believe Oliver Cromwell ever in his life tasted such good oatmeal! I had porridge of it last night, and find it—as your Father's meal always is—unsurpassable!— The hams we have not broken into yet, but so far as can be judged by sight they too are excellent, and the rapidity and kindness with which my petition for meal has been answered and enlarged upon are excellent—and in short Jamiemy “Jamie”—that is the “Jamie” who was there for me before you were born, or had so much as thought of giving yourself that trouble, is and has always been a dear good Jamie to me! And I hope to live to shake hands with him again and give him a hearty kiss!——as if that could do much for him at the present date!—

I really think Mr Carlyle is pretty well at present, His appetite is good—indeed that scarcely ever fails him, and his sleep is much improved—and he goes on regularly, if not so rapidly as he would like, with his Book. But he has got such a bad habit of constantly talking with exaggerative Calyleian2 eloquence of all his ailments great and small, that it is not from what he says, so much as from what oneself sees that his amount of good or ill health is to be estimated, and of course oneself mayn't always see clearly.

The worst symptom I observe in him at the present time or for a long time back is his excessive irritability. But I scarcely believe that to be now a symptom of illness so much as a bad habit which he has let himself go to

Please to send what I am here writing no farther— Indeed burn my letter—It is one of the disadvantages of being connected with a distinguished man, that ones own little obscure letters and speeches must be written and spoken always under a chilling sense of future Biographers! to say nothing of present Gossipers!—

Meanwhile my Cat has been confined of four kittens! and only two of them being bespoke, I told Charlotte to drown the other two, which was done before they had come to consciousness of being alive. A deep hole was then dug for them in the garden, and they were put in, and covered up. In spite of Mr C's assertion that “Cats have no arithmetic,—are quite insensible to whether you leave them one kitten or four” my Cat showed much perturbation of mind when her two kittens were removed—and left the two living ones, to see what Charlotte was doing with the dead ones—running between the two in the kitchen and the two getting buried with a great deal of perplexed mewing. She certainly had a dim notion of arithmetic for the next few hours—it was night before her mewings ceased—that was eight days ago. Yesterday I was standing at the back door, and I saw the Cat tearing laboriously at the place where the kittens had disappeared, and uttering sharp wailing cries rather than mews. She made a hole as deep as herself and then unable to dig deeper she stood over it in a musing, perplexed way, and finally went slowly back to the live kittens!

Yours affly with love to “wee Jenny3 /