The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 16 October 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401016-TC-JCA-01; CL 12: 289-290


Chelsea, Friday, 16 Octr / 1840—

My dear Sister,

Thanks for your Letter; it is the only one I have had from the Homeland for a good many weeks. Being in haste, and having no paper quite at hand but this fraction, I will answer by a still shorter. Your Letter is already folded up for Jack, for whom another foreign one had arrived this morning: he is now gone from Bangor in Wales to Beaumaris a Town in the Island of Anglesey few miles off that; there they have a house, he says, “2. Victoria Terrace,” and mean to continue “a few days.” No rest for the wicked,1—nor for some others not altogether wicked! I am glad to hear of his gift to the Sisterhood; a right proper thing.

Poor Miss Grahame's straw hat is almost an affecting thing. Tell her that the offer itself gives me great pleasure; but that she owes me no gratitude, I rather owe her gratitude,—for being a good industrious ingenious girl, capable of being aided in so easy a way. She must persist in her manufacture, and extend it; she does the country-side credit.— I am not allowed to wear straw hats here; the Cockney “force of public opinion,” gazing at one with astonishment on the streets, renders it more advisable to submit patiently to the absurdest monster of a felt. I tried the straw four years ago (a hat of her plaiting, which I used to wear in Edinburgh);2 but found it would not do.

Not to mortify the young artist, however, as you say a refusal would do, I am to submit that Jane will most cheerfully accept a bonnet, and wear it for the sake of the maker; a thing truly not difficult to do. She pronounces the plait to be original, eminently beautiful, and calculated to succeed here among dealers in that article. Miss Graham should get apprentices, make arrangements &c! Meanwhile, for Jane's individual bonnet, this is to be the way of it:

Inclosed is the species of plait which she prefers;—point first. The second point is, that the bonnet must not be made, that is, shaped or sewed; let a due quantity of plait be provided, wrapt up in paper; and sent off along with a Provision-box or barrel they are now in the act of getting ready at Scotsbrig: it will travel in the handsomest way along with that; and the bonnet-maker here can put it in the true perfection of fashionable shape;—this is point second. And now (point third and last), lest the London sewers, as they are like to do, mistake the plan of sewing the plait, Miss G. is to sew two pieces together as an intelligible effectual specimen; and putting this in with the rest, the whole matter seems to me to stand clear and square;—and we shall see what comes of it!

Jane is not well at present: she has been flurried all to pieces by the little Dottle [small drunkard] of a Maid-Servant who has fallen into distraction of Gin itself, within the last week; and, after three years of most useful service otherwise, is to be