April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 30 December 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18441230-JWC-MR-01; CL 18: 306-308


Monday 29th [30] December [1844] 5 Cheyne Row / Chelsea—

My dearest Mrs Russel

I send a money order for a sovereign to be given as heretofore and I know you will not grudge the trouble or any trouble I impose on you— I send also a collar for Margaret and a worsted handkerchief for old Mary— Such handkerchiefs are probably more common in Thornhill than in London—but Mary will find one sent to her all the way from London, and direct from me, infinitely superior to a better bought at her own door. And old Mary is not the only person in this world who thinks that “far fowls have fair feathers.”1

I have still to thank you for your last interesting letter— If you only knew with what eagerness I read all sorts of news about Thornhill, you would think nothing that happens there too insignificant to tell me. Here, we are going on as usual except that for the last five weeks I have been shut up in the house, having speedily fallen a victim to “the inclemency of the season.” But I am now so far recovered, that I feel no other inconvenience from my illness but some cough, which hinders me from breathing with all the freedom I could wish, and for which besides keeping the house I “feel it my duty” to breakfast in bed—a thing I mortally dislike doing as it knocks the eye out of ones day. Another inconvenience I may mention which you a good housewife will sympathise with me in—viz: that I find myself running out of every thing even to tapes and threads—my husband not being one of those Ladies-men who can do my shopping for me and there being no one else at hand just now to do it! My husband truly would almost as soon have an affair with a mad dog as with a Cockney-shopman! to such a pitch of sacred horror had he brought this reluctance that I used to have to order even his own coats and trousers at the tailors!—till some four years ago that being sent to choose him a coat I chose one sky blue with glorious yellow buttons, which made him “an ornament to society in every direction” and quite shook his faith in my judgement he said, “so far at least as the dressing of him was concerned.” Since then he has bought his own clothes very nicely; for it was not the want of “judgement” which hindered him so much as the want of will—nay the other day he had the incredible audacity to buy me a cloak—actually a womans cloak for a christmas-present! and a very world-like cloak it is I assure you—warm and sober and a good shape! so in case of necessity he may even by and by learn to buy tapes and threads!

I had a letter from Liverpool the other day with good enough accounts of my Uncle—he seems to be standing this winter better than he did the last—Jeannie and Maggie are gone to Glasgow and will soon I suppose return home— You did not tell me anything about Margaret Hiddlestone in your last letter— Let me know how she is going on—and if her little girls grow rapidly big—I never renounce the idea of having her about me some time or other if we both live long enough— At all events she must bring up one of her little daughters to take care of me when I am old!2—should I live to be old—which to say the truth I do not think very probable—I have still the same little Helen for servant who tugs on better and worse, never within many degrees of being a perfect Maid-of-all-work, but tolerable on the whole—and I always go on keeping her longer, chiefly because I have kept her so long.

What is your husband saying to this new gospel of Animal Magnetism? we here are sick of hearing about it.3 Harriet Martineau expects that the whole system of medecine is going to be flung to the dogs presently, and that henceforth instead of Physicians we are to have Magnetizers! May be so! but “I as one solitary individual” (my husbands favourite phrase) will in that case prefer my sickness to the cure—one knows that sickness at all events comes from God—and is not at all sure that such cure does not come from the Devil— The wonder is that sensible people who have heard tell since ever they were born of witchcraft and demonaical possession and all that sort of thing should all at once fall to singing to deums over magnetism as if it were a new revealation! Nay anybody that had ever seen a child tickled might have recognized the principle of Animal Magnetism without going further! Ever affectionately / Yours

Jane Carlyle

Remember me affectionately to your father and husband— Please to wear the shawl-pin I send, for my sake