August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 17 October 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421017-TC-JCA-01; CL 15: 129-130


Chelsea, Monday 17 Octr / 1842—

My dear Jean,

On Saturday night late the Picture arrived by our Chelsea Carrier! The entire charge for carriage between you and us was but 7/4,—one of the cheapest freights I remember. Discerning well what the big square Box contained, we made all the haste consistent with the safety of the contents to open it; in few minutes we got in to the linen or cotton cloth, to Janes's1 pertinent judicious direction, and then in an instant more to the Picture itself! A general exclamation of approval was the instantaneous result. We have seldom any of us seen a more successful likeness: it far surpasses all we expected; we are truly glad to have got the business so satisfactorily managed,—and doubt not but you and James too are now of that opinion; to whose care and judgement such result, we know well enough, is mainly due. Nothing whatsoever, to the smallest fibre of the package, had gone wrong. I have carried the Picture, still sticking by its screws to the bottom of the Box, up stairs; and have it here standing against the light on two chairs: my good old Mother exactly as she looks; with her air of embarrassed blateness [bashfulness], yet of energy, intelligence and true affection; my good old Mother!— Jane approves much the whole performance; the fashion of the cap &c as well as the drawing of it: I know the very hands, the portrait of the shawl &c: thanks to you, to the brave Painter and you!— One insignificant criticism is as yet all we have been able to make out against it: that the figure in the chair (owing to some small want of a stroke of colour somewhere about the bottom of the dress) seems hardly to sit in the chair, but rather somehow to be standing;—a most minute fault; which will not be noticeable at all when the Picture is once framed and hung up. Jane is to set about that final plain department of the business this very day.

Pray send me an account of the Flannel that I may know what money I do owe you.— James must make my compliments to the Painter, my thanks; and say that we esteem him to possess a real genius for painting;—and do earnestly and solemnly charge him not to waste it away in that devil's-quagmire of whiskey, but to stand up to his task like a man, shirking no difficulty, fearing no evil or pain; and he may yet find far nobler results in it than heretofore!2


The Doctor, as we infer from certain Liverpool tidings, must be at Scotsbrig since Friday last. The little Cousin went away last night; she very sad, we too made sad. I have seldom seen a cheerier daintier better-conditioned little woman.——— By the next Steamer to Annan will come, to Alick's care, a kind of Tobacco-box for James! It is an apparatus for smoking when one is on a journey: let him laugh when he sees it! My complaints of inability to work &c need not be repeated today. I must quit you without more words. Blessings with you and yours, dear Jane. Send me the smallest note about the Flannel.

Your affe

T. Carlyle