The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 8 February 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530208-TC-JCA-01; CL 28: 37-38


Chelsea, 8 feby, 1853—

Dear Jean,

Never scruple to send to me for a Book, when you are hard up for something to read: I can almost always (as in this recent case too, it was) find without inconvenience one or the other mass of printed stuff to send you, which will be better than nothing. Remember also, when you are at Scotsbrig, to settle about the course of the regular Magazine and Review which leave this place by nature, in whatever direction; and do not forget to tell me if you decide that I am to make any alteration.

But what I want most with you in reference to Scotsbrig, and the cause of my writing today, is this: That, since my Mother is so well provided with wine (tho' I wish you would look into this too, and satisfy yourself, whether the wine benefits, and whether she has enough of it),—you would get, for my own sake, and take down with you, for our dear old Mother, Half-a-dozen bottles of the best old brandy (brown or pale,—perhaps brown best, if truly good?); pray try to assure yourself that it is good: then send me the account,—I can pay you in a minute even to farthings. Do this for me; and be sure you do it well! That is all I have to say today.

Except—that you need not in the least be afraid of “Phoebe”! She is a very wholesome innocent character, in real truth; and you have only to present yourself in your own native colours before her, in order to get on very well together. A person that has any sense, and can [honest]ly consent to be what he is, and take up the ground that belongs to him, goes current thro' all the world!—

I am in deep puddles as to work &c &c: ye must just have patience wi' us! Heigho, the ground is mere peatbog, with no bottom known; and the old horse is himself Camsteery, and apt to get impatient with his cart.

We have horribly cold weather too; dry, but bitter to a degree: and the sleeping talent of this family (except it be Nero's and the maid's) is not considerable. This morning I was awake far too early; didn't bathe, on account of the fierce cold, and am now going to do it (tho' already shivering), now when I have room to walk myself into heat again.— — Here, to crown the whole, is an unfortunate Lombard (brown youth from the Southern side of the Alps) come with his organ to grind out a living for himself just under my window: and the question arises, Whether to go out and, if not assassinate him, call the Police upon him, or to take myself away to the bath-tub and the other side of the house? Of course, I ought to chuse the latter alternative,—and do, for the wretch's organ is a horse one, I hear; drawn by a horse; and, one wd think, played by one!

Adieu, dear Sister; I cut & run.

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle