July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


JWC TO JOHN CHILDS ; 6 March 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480306-JWC-JCHI-01; CL 22: 263-264


5 Cheyne RowMonday [6 March 1848]

My dear Sir

If I plague you by the request or question I have to ask; blame my Husband; for it was he who put me up to it.

Have you any employment no matter how trifling, in your business, that you could give to an honest, sober, industrious, not unintelligent, and positively starving man?1 Such a one is living within a stone cast of us, and if some Deus ex machina do not save him, he and his wife and two little children must die outright, or go on the Parish or the Streets where it were a thousand pities to let them go; after having born the extremest privations rather than have recourse to either public or private charity. I have known about them for many years, and am sure their actual state of destitution has not been produced by any extravagance or fault of their own, but simply by the hard times.

The man was a Gentleman's servant—seven years in his last place—where he married the house maid—the two having saved a small purse of money between them—with that, he paid a hairdresser to instruct him in making up hair, and then set up in that business, and his wife sewed for servants and poor people, and they kept their heads above water. But for the last year the people who bought his hair in the country towns, where he went with it once a month, buy it no longer—having no money to spare for artificial good looks, and the poor people who had their gowns &c made by the wife are driven by “The Mother of Invention2 to make for themselves—and so—!— I have tried to get the man a place in his old line, but his having been ten years out of service is an insuperable objection—and one Lady who sets up for being “very benevolent” could not think of engaging him on account of “his pale sickly looks” (the consequence of care and bad feeding) He answers Times Advertisements of all sorts, and with no other result than wearing his shoes.

When I was lamenting about him yesterday; Carlyle said, he wondered if you could not give some work—and I thought it could at least do no harm to ask you.

Mr C. bids me say he would very much like the seal3—he is working very hard just now at finding out—what to work at!

Very sincerely yours

Jane Carlyle