August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL; 25 September 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460925-JWC-MR-01; CL 21:57-58.


5 Cheyne Row [25 September 1846]

Dearest Mrs Russell

I write to you today on my own business—tho meaning to write at any rate to announce my return to Chelsea—without having been in Scotland after all! Alas! this year I absolutely had not courage for it!—my stay in Lancashire did so little towards strengthening either my body or soul that I could not muster resolution for going further north. Another year perhaps I shall do better— God knows I begin to lose faith sadly in my own capabilities

—My chief object in writing today however is to ask once more about Margaret Hiddlestone—is there any earthly chance of my getting her now?1 Helen is going—this time for certain—and she could never have gone at a time when I should have been sorrier to lose her—for her conduct during the last year has been quite exemplary. And so for once virtue is getting its reward— A Brother in Ireland has been rising into great prosperity as a manufacturer of coach-fringe—thanks to the immense consumption of it on the Railways—he has now two hundred girls in his pay, and in point of money (if he tells the truth) quite a gentleman— He has never done anything for Helen hitherto beyond coming to see her for a quarter of an hour when his business called him to London—never given her to the value of a farthing—but suddenly he is seized with a fit of brotherly love—comes here last evening, and invites her to go to Dublin and be his housekeeper—engaging that should he hereafter marry he will settle an ample provision on her. Of course nothing could be done with such an offer but accept it. Helen cries about leaving me—but to be made a Lady of all on a sudden does not fall in ones way every day!—for myself I am far from feeling the confidence she does in this Brother's promises and prospects—still I can do no other under the circumstances than encourage her to try this opportunity of providing herself an independent home— And so all that remains is to look out for another in her place— But before I stir a step further I must have another no from Margaret for the idea of having her for my servant some time has never left my imagination or rather my heart— I think I told her formerly that she should have twelve pounds a year—tea and all that found her—and her expences paid to Chelsea.

—You know how she is situated at present with regard to her children and every thing else—and if you are already sure she will not come there is no use teazing her any more about it—but if you have any doubt—take the trouble once more to tell her my wish—and hear what she has got to say to it—

What a time of it people have in this world with one change and another! very sad for those who like myself are the slaves of habit.

—Margarets children must be pretty well grown now—by and by one might find them little places in London beside her if she came— Long here at a distance from her children I am sure she would not like to be

Kindest regards to your Father and Husband

Ever affectionately Yours

Jane Carlyle