The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 13 July 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520713-JWC-MR-01; CL 27: 165-167


13th July / 5 Cheyne Row [1852]

Dearest Mrs Russell

I might be excused for forgetting my own birthday1 this time, and even my own name, and address, and everything about me, except the one terrific fact that I am in a house under what is called “thorough repair”!— Having never had to do with London workmen, you cannot form any adequate idea of the thing—workmen who spend three fourths of their time in consulting how the work should be done and in going out and in after “beer” were not, at least, in my day, known in Scotland and then “a thorough repair,” complicated by the altering of chimnies and partitions and by heat at eighty two degrees in the shade, were a wild piece of work with any sort of workmen!— The Builder2 promised to have all done in six weeks, painting included—if he get done in six months it is as much as I hope!— Meanwhile I run about in the great heat,3 carrying all my furniture in my arms from one room to another—and sleep or rather lie about like a dog—just where I see a cleared space—I am needed here to keep the workmen from falling into continual mistakes—but why Mr Carlyle who is anything rather than needed stays on, I cant imagine—nor do I know when I shall get away nor where I shall go— We were to have gone both of us to Germany but that is all knocked on the head now—at least for the present— If you saw me sitting in the midst of falling bricks, and clouds of lime dust, and a noise as of battering rams you wouldnt wonder that I should make my letter brief— The poor little sweet briar grew threw all the east winds and was flourishing beautifully when heavy rains came and killed it— I am so vexed and cant help feeling the sweet briars unwillingness to grow with me a bad omen somehow— I wonder if you will be goodnatured and unwearied enough to send me another slip, to try when the right time comes?—

And now to the business; will you lay out five shillings on Old Mary in some judicious way for me, and will you give my little packet to Margaret4 and tell them I still think of them both kindly. I had a great hope very vague but quite probable that I should have gone to Scotland this summer and seen you somewhere now everything is unsettled with the talk about Germany and the fact of this house altering—

Ever affectionately yours

Jane Welsh Carlyle