The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 31 December 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18521231-JWC-MR-01; CL 27: 388-390


5 Cheyne Row / Friday [31 December 1852]

My dear Mrs Russell

Here is another year, God help us all! I hope it finds you better than when I last heard of you from my friends at Auchtertool I have often been meaning to write to you without waiting for a new years day but in all my life I never have been so driven off all letter writing as since the repair began in this house—there was four months of that confusion, which ended quite romantically in my having to sleep with loaded pistols at my bedside! the smell of paint making it as much as my life was worth to sleep with closed windows, and the thieves having become aware of the state of the premises. Once they got in and stole some six pounds worth of things before they were frightened away by a candlestick falling and making what my Irish maid called “a devil of a row”—it was rather to be called an angel of a row as it saved further deprivation. Another time they climbed up to the drawing room windows and found them fastened—for a wonder! Another night I was alarmed by a sound as of a pane of glass cut and leapt out of bed and struck a light and listened—and heard the same sound repeated and then a great bang like breaking in some pannel—I took one [of]1 my loaded pistols and went down stairs, and then another bang which I perceived was at the front door—“What do you want?” I asked “who are you?”—“it's the Policeman if you please—do you know that your parlour windows are both open”?—it was true!— I had forgotten to close them and the Policeman had first tried the bell which made the shudering sound the wire being detached from the bell—and when he found he could not ring it he had beaten on the door with his stick—the knocker also being off while it was getting painted— I could not help laughing at what the man's feelings would have been had he known of the cocked pistol within a few inches of him All that sort of thing and much else more disagreeable and less amusing quite took away all my spirit for writing then when Mr C returned from Germany we went to the Grange for some weeks—then when I came home and the workmen were actually out of the house there was every thing to look for and be put in its place and really things are hardly in their places up to this hour— Heaven defend me from ever again having any house I live in “made habitable”—

What beautiful weather! I was walking in the garden by moonlight last night without bonnet or shawl!— A difference from being shut up for four months as I used to be in the winter—

All is quiet in London now that we have got that weary Dukes funeral over—for a while it made our neighbourhood perfectly intolerable I never saw streets so jammed with human beings in all my life— I saw the lying in state, at the cost of being crushed for four hours—and it was much like scenes I have seen in the Lyceum Theatre only not so well got up as Vestris2 would have had it. I also saw the procession from Bath House—and that too displeased me—however when the funeral car happened to stop exactly opposite to the window I was sitting at for some eight minutes—and I saw Lord Ashburton and several others of the Dukes personal friends standing on the terrace underneath with their hats off looking on the ground very sorrowful—and remembered that the last time I had seen the old Duke alive was in that very room, I could not help feeling as if he were pausing there to take eternal leave of us all and fell to crying and couldn't stop till it was all over—

I send you some pictures of the thing which are quite acurate—it may amuse you to see what you must have read so much of in the newspapers—And now will you give Mary and Margaret some tea or something with my blessing—and dispose of the rest of the sovereign as you see fit—

With kindest regards to your Husband and Father believe me ever dear Mrs Russell yours affectionately

Jane Carlyle