August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 20 December 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18461220-TC-JCA-01; CL 21:115-116.


Chelsea, 20 Decr, 1846—

Dear Sister Jean,

Your two pretty little wristikins arrived safe last night; and the kind little Letter with them, which with its tone of sadness and almost of solemnity very much affected the poor Missus in her present weak state. She directs me to send you many kind thanks, till she be able to answer for herself.

We have, as you surmise, been in a considerably ugly kind of puddle for some three weeks back; and are not yet entirely out of it, tho' coming out now, we hope. The Edinburgh Servant proved an entire failure; one of the most useless, insolent, canting, unendurable pieces of Human Dishonesty I have ever set eyes on: one of those unfortunate creatures whom the “Penny Ladies” educate (Jane's Aunts1 had been very busy with this one); who get themselves all filled with abstruse evangelical doctrines, simpering courtesies, and such like hypocritical shews, and are left totally ignorant that unless you can do your work in this world there is no hope for you here or elsewhere! The unfortunate shut could do no work at all, and would do none; Jane caught a bad cold running after her, encouraging, try to teach her (with but little hope, I think); was obliged to take to bed; on the third day after which, our courageous consciencious2 Help (on a Saturday night late, it was) fairly broke down; declared that she must be off tomorrow. She went accordingly:—you can fancy what a time we have had since; with Miss Welsh here as a guest, Jane still confined to her room (altogether till yesternight for a while at tea), and no servant here, but an old halfdunce, that was suddenly surrendered to us, whom I call SLOW-COACH, and who well deserves the name!3— However Jane is now getting better; in hopes to be out again in the course of the week; Miss Welsh too will go (for tho' she is in the highest degree assiduous, and patient of all confusion, a stranger is no acquisition in such an emergency): after which we set regularly to get a proper servant, and shall hope to be all on our old footing again. There has come thaw since Friday night; that is one of the finest features for us! I myself had caught some cold; but am beating it back again by vigorous measures. Such is the worst of our news.

Here has a Letter come from Alick; it should have been sent off yesternight: I am under the influence of drugs today, and must not write more. Jenny's Letter came safe. Blessings to all.

T. Carlyle