The Collected Letters, Volume 13


JWC TO ELIZA AITKEN ; April 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410400-JWC-EA-01; CL 13: 70-71


5 Cheyne Row / Chelsea [early April 1841]

My dear Eliza

We have scripture for it “woe unto you when all men speak well of you!”1—but when one man speaks extravagantly well of you—that I hope does not imply woe—otherwise your husband and you run a terrible risk! It seems to me that I should be very hard-hearted, if I suffered the flowery raptures of that enthusiastic Mr Dodds to be turned to the base uses of setting tallow-candles &c &c2—and as to laying them by with select letters, I should be afraid of their igniting the whole mass—so I enclose them to you whom the[y]3 chiefly concern—I advise you to put them under glass in a frame, and hang them up over your sideboard, as George Rennie did with an address from some borough, which was ambitious of having him for it's representative in Parliament

By the way, George Rennie has been here three times within the last ten days; which I impute to his having had Influenza—illness softens his heart always, and in rendering the present extremely disgusting to him inclines him to seek consolation from the past—the same phenomena occurred after his smallpox—

For the rest we are going on here much in the old way. Severe as the winter was it did not reach my chest. I “took time by the forelock”4 (do you remember him?) and shut myself up before being ill, which saved me from becoming ill— Some weeks ago I was taken to bed with a sore-throat which I cured, myself: by flaying it pretty effectually with a blister— Helen declared I “should never be fit to be seen in this world again”—but it mended in no time, and now merely looks excessively dirty, and dirty necks in London are much more frequent than clean ones— Carlyle Growls along but does no practical mischief—the most unmanageable feature of his actual manner of being is that he is always crying out to be away somewhere and never goes— His portmantea has been standing on a chair half-packed for the last four weeks—with a direction on it Mr Carlyle Passenger—but passenger in what, or whither—no man, least of all himself has the faintest idea—and if I were required with a loaded pistol at my heart to fill up the card—the only thing I could put with a shadow of probability would be passenger into Infinite Space!— What is to become of us thro'out the summer I know as little “white men know nothing”!5 White women less than nothing— God bless you anyhow / ever your

affectionate /

Jane Carlyle