The Collected Letters, Volume 25


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 31 December 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18501231-JWC-MR-01; CL 25: 325-326


31st December [1850] 5 Cheyne Row

Dont the years get to gallop so fast dear Mrs Russell that it seems no longer worth while to take note of them? Since last new year to this one, I seem to have hardly had time enough for one good long sleep! To those however, whom the winter finds with no money in their pockets to buy fire and food, the new winter may not look short! I wonder if to old Mary,1 for example, time seems to fly in this way, with ever increasing velocity?—do you think she takes any satisfaction in her life? if so; what shame to some of us! Poor old soul! as long as the life is in her I fancy she will like a bit of finery—especially if sent from London! and so the scarlet scarf(!) I send her however preposterous a present you may think it, wont have been so ill judged— I wish I were nearer her, I could give her plenty of old warm things, that poor people here hardly thank me for, and pawn generally for drink—but the carriage of such things costs more than they are all worth—and such trifles as can be easily sent by post are not adapted to the wants of a poor old woman—yet I am sure she likes something coming from myself—better than she would like the money to buy a new years trifle to herself—so tell her with my kind regards to twist this scarf several times round her old throat, and to be sure and not strangle herself with it— There is a ribbon for Margaret2—the ugliest I must say that I ever set my eyes on—but I sent my Maid to buy it—having got a little cold today—and this was her notion of the becoming! I must put in a cap-border with it to carry it off— The sovereign please to distribute for me according to your discretion—

Things are going on well enough with us for the present— There has been no winter hitherto to give me a chance it getting myself laid up—(for my cold today is nothing to speak of) and my headachs have neither been so frequent nor so severe latterly— But I met with a horrid accident some weeks ago—banged my right breast against the end of the sofa—and for three weeks the pain continued—and so, not being able to get the thing forgotten I was frightened out of my wits for the possible consequences—especially as my Brother-in-law wrote from Scotsbrig that I was not to go to any Dr with it—“London Drs being so unsafe for making a case out of everything and any meddling with such a thing as this being in his opinion positively injurious”— There! what does Dr Russell say to such views of the medical profession! The pain is quite gone now however—and I try to think no more about it—but it may be excused to me, all things recollected, that I have suffered a good deal of apprehension from this accident—

I have also been bothered to death with servants this Autumn—have had three in quick succession—the first new one roasted fowls with the crop and bowels in them! and that mode of cookery was not to our taste—the second a really clever servant, and good girl came to me, with a serious disease upon her and had to be soon sent to the Hospital where she is still, after two months—the third and last, thank heaven, suits capitally but I had best not praise her too much—it is “a tempting of Providence” to “cry before one is out of the wood”—

Kindest regards to your Father and Husband— Tell me about your health and “the smallest news will be gratefully received[”]3

Ever yours affectionately

Jane Carlyle

I send you a winters evenings amusement in the shape of a book—I had written your name and mine on the fly leaf—but was advised to tear it out— Mr C has had two books seized at the post office lately on account of some pencil markings on one and a name on the fly leaf of the other—