July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 2 October 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471002-TC-JCA-01; CL 22: 109-111


Scotsbrig, 2 Octr (Saturday Night) [1847]

Dear Jean,

There has a sort of demand risen in Chelsea for good Honey-comb, and a sort of engagement on my part, in consequence, to take some steps for procuring a few pounds of it, if I can. My means, I find, are limited strictly to what you, by the aid of Mrs Dick,1 can do for me. If Mrs Dick have, or can in a day or two get, a few pounds of good Honey-comb,—I suppose one could stow it safely into some kind of procurable tin-case, which if wrapt in paper would render it safe company for clothes in a portmanteau? I wish you would speak to Mrs Dick, first about the existence of said Honeycomb itself, then about the fit case for packing it in; and, provided all be right, get me together a fair household stock of the article,—as soon as possible. I do not know at all how many pounds to order;—as many as will be sure of keeping, when there are but two to eat it: I can give no closer rule; except perhaps to add that it has to go in a portmanteau. Or could it go safe in a sack of oatmeal; or stuck to the end of a butter-firkin? In that case, you might have plenty of time, still a few weeks, to do your best in making a good choice; and might even realize a Borgue specimen?2 I am quite ignorant; and having set the case before you, must leave it there; begging only to hear about the article as soon as may be,—and to have it, if it is to go with me, on Wednesday next, Wednesday first, that is. I am speculating about taking my departure on Thursday; and at any rate there will be no sure chance after that. So do the best you can.

I am still talking about another drive to Dumfries, and back the same day,—possibly enough Tuesday, but one cannot fix, there are so many uncertainties:—however do you write me a line on Tuesday, whether I come or not, I shall then be brought to a state of certainty.

We had a Letter on Thursday from Alick; which is now gone to the Doctor, and will reach you before long: all well, only the youngest child had fallen and hurt itself,3—great quantities of Irish Emigrants too were sick and dying of dysentery “in temporary sheds” about Brantford and all other Towns. Alick supposes, “Jean is too busy with her children to write him a Letter.” Write, and convince him of the contrary.

Our Mother and I were at Gill yesterday: Mary is in a poorish state, tho' on foot again; labouring much under biliary derangements. Mother stood the wind very well; but the old Gig, quite loose in the rearward screws, went waggling like a monstrous rowly-powly [pudding] dish, and annoyed her, especially in the home-coming, a good deal; today she has been rather feckless, but has brightened up into her usual state at evening again.

Jane, I learned on returning from you, had fallen ill the day before Jamie and I came; and had been rather heavily unwell,—a kind of “bilious fever”; which John had successfully doctored, and brought round the corner again; tho' the poor patient seems still to be rather feeble, and obliged to nurse herself.

I am very idle here, and sleepy: I went one day, riding, to Gillenbie; shall perhaps have to go again, if the skies keep brisk, for Stewart was not at home that day; whom, however, I saw for a little while, at Gill, last night. Another day I went to Grange; saw some of the Waterbeck people, being escorted by Graham of Burnswark: a rather dismal ride that! In fact I may be said to be as good as extinct, till I get home again,—if even that fairly awake me.

Good night, dear Jean: if I can, I will make Jamie drive me up on Tuesday: but the old Gig, tho' we mended it today, is “no great shakes”—or rather is a great shakes,—and indeed I have nothing to do but take leave of you, if I were there. Commend me to James;—and bid the younger malisons prepare for bed!

Your affectionate Brother

T. Carlyle