The Collected Letters, Volume 25


JWC TO JOSEPH NEUBERG ; 19 September 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500919-JWC-JN-01; CL 25: 225-226


5 Cheyne Row 19th September [1850]

Oh my dear Mr Neuberg what may you be thinking of me I wonder! that I am an entire humbug of a woman, with certain pretensions to sentiment “and all that sort of thing,” and whom nevertheless serious friendship is thrown away upon—one of those unsatisfactory women in fact with whom ‘out of sight is out of mind? is that your private opinion of me in these days of waiting for an answer to your letter, and some acknowledgement of your gift? If so however you are quite out in your calculations. My silence hitherto is no proof that I am without heart, and even common politeness— I have been silent for a reason extremely stupid, but conclusive all the same. I had mislaid your letter and did not know your address! And if you only knew what a sack of Troy has been transacting itself in this house latterly you would find it quite simple that I should have lost not only a letter but my purse and my keys, and nero and my own wits!

I did not go with Mr C into Wales, nobody invited me nor would I have gone in any case— I chose to remain here to get up a household earthquake, accordingly Mr C was no sooner off, than I proceeded to pull up carpets, and pull down beds, and to send all manner of things to the Dyer! and to bring in Sweeps and Whitewashers and Carpenters and Smiths, and in short to raise such a dust as had not been in the premises I should think since they were first built in the reign of Charles the 2d! If virtue had been as surely its own reward as good people say it is; I should have been long ere this sitting at ease in the midst of unspeakable cleanness, looking complacently on the little “Babylon which I had builded”1 but everything went wrong; my Husband's friends “the Destinies” had for some reason best known to themselves taken his wife into decided aversion—the whitewasher spoiled all the paper on my walls, the Smiths made a perfectly other new grate for the Library than the one I had ordered. in every room of the house “the pigs ran thro,”2 and to crown all my maid Elizabeth whom I had allowed to get the upper hand with me, lead me such a devil of a life after Mr C's departure, that I finally convinced myself I should be better as a negro eating pumpkins than the so-called mistress of that young person—and so I gave her notice to quit at the end of the month, whereupon she would not wait till the end of the month, but rushed off in a day! leaving me with no servant, a house in a most “abnormal” condition, a visitor (Miss Jewsbury) expected for some days, and my own health all “gone to smithers”— But so long as one keeps alive one struggles thro better or worse, so now; so now I have got things straight again, or nearly so, and have realized myself a country-girl for Servant, who has a temper as sweet as barley-sugar, but knows no more of cooking than an unfledged dove. And I am to try to teach her, God help me! And Bölte says “but, you are mad! how should you now cook in your old age?” Well, it is a questionable adventure certainly, yet one might take to worse in one's old age— Meanwhile I am very tired and in need of what is called “a change” and so I am going off to the Grange on Wednesday, where I shall find in the magnificent and brilliant atmosphere of Lady Ashburton as complete a change from my own late squalid maid-of-all-work atmosphere, as human heart could desire Mr C is now at Scotsbrig and has not fixed the time of his return; will perhaps join me at the Grange, where I shall stay a fortnight or so; perhaps not—one never can tell what he will do till he does it. The Ashburtons go to Paris in the end of October and Lady A has invited him—not me—to stay with them a fortnight there, and that I think he will do. as he has not said that he will not. My maid let fall a box in my bedroom this morning and broke the lid in two pieces and strewed all the letters it held, on the floor, and behold yoursthere—where I did not dream of having put it, so I have lost no time in availing myself of the recovered address— Thanks for your kind thoughts of me— I fancy we shall see you back in London before long— Give my best regards to your nice little Sister3 Ever affectionately yours

Jane Carlyle