1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 23 March 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550323-TC-JCA-01; CL 29: 276-277


Chelsea, 23 March, 1855—

My dear Jean,

Enclosed here is a small Picture, which you will not look at without emotion. Alas, alas, many memories attach to it while we continue in this world; and memories are now all we have.— I enclose the poor little Piece today, in great haste; having hardly a minute left before going out to walk; your Post just about closing for the week.

I had got a Painter here, an obliging little fellow, of the name of Tait to take Photographs of my Mother's Portrait;—they take a kind of heavy tracery upon glass, by means of which you can do as many photographs as you like: Tait has diligently tried it, taken half a dozen different “traceries” (Negatives, they call them), of which this now sent is one of the best specimens, tho' not the preferred one, or absolutely best (as we reckoned it), from which Tait is to do seven other Photographs—but the Oil-Picture, he complains, is itself dim and bad, unfavourable for a good result by this method.— You need not frame the one now sent, therefore, or otherwise take much pains about it: for I hope to have another, probably somewhat better, to send you expressly before many days. And so this merely comes as a memento in the meanwhile. Two of the Photographs sent me are entirely unlike; which is curious, and shews the uncertainty of the art.

I am very busy all this while; unluckily not to much purpose: but I struggle forward what I can, and persist against all the discouragements and the difficulties. If one wait till all these are past, one will wait long.

We are in tolerable health, in our usual grumbling way. Jane, always complaining, never actually fell down in the frost; tho' she was pretty nearly beaten, as I could perceive, when the rigour of the business ended. Our weather since is very clashy and uncertain; but never unendurable like that; now altogether suitable (to the swift walker at least) and pleasant. Jack, whom I saw yesternight; is likewise tolerably well: he has his poor little sailor boy with him; is reading, speculating, and roving about at a great rate Much the same as he used to be, when not so white of head as now. Poor soul, he has an admirable humour intrinsically, after all; and shakes his sufferings away, in a style very superior to some of us.

It is a longer interval than usual since I heard expressly of you: send us some word, an assurance if you can that all is as usual, so soon as possible; that will put us off in the meanwhile.

Give my kind regards to James. Good be with you, dear Jean, and all your house. I am ever and always

Your affectionate Brother /

T. Carlyle