The Collected Letters, Volume 28


JWC TO CHARLES REDWOOD ; 25 December 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18531225-JWC-CR-01; CL 28: 350-351


5 Cheyne Row / Chelsea / 25th December/53

My dear Mr Redwood

It falls to me—this time to acknowledge with thanks the arrival of your never-failing Christmas gifts—since it falls to me—alas—to eat them “all to myself” (as the children say)!

Mr Carlyle and I were on a visit at Lord Ashburtons which commenced on the 4th of December and was to have lasted till about newyears day. But last Monday I was despatched to London about certain— Cocks! and a Macaw! which you have perhaps heard of— “the great first Cause least understood”1 of that “Silent apartment” which Mr C built this summer at an outlay of some 200£ The Silent Apartment having proved a complete failure having proved in fact the apartment most accessible to sound in the whole house (no wonder! having 14 air-holes in frank and free communication with the before and behind!) it became imperative, that unless we were both to be landed in Bedlam he thro' these Demon-birds and I thro their effects on him—some thing else should be done of real efficacy— Poisoning them was his fixed idea; but that I held him back from all I could—especially at this time of the year when the newspapers have no debates to fill their pages,—such a recourse would have been questionable. It was finally settled we should try to take the house no 6 ourselves for three years and eject the present occupants— —if we could—and to achieve this I was sent to Chelsea “quite promiscuously”— To be in time for the Xmas term,2 the utmost despatch was needed— The fine people at the Grange, were greatly amused as well as astonished to see a Wife sent off from the midst of Xmas festivities to consult with house agents and house owners— But Mr C was quite right in insisting “She can do it better than I”— Decidedly he had neither the temper nor the dexterity(!) to bring this romantic undertaking to the happy issue I have brought it to— For I not only got the house but got rid of it when gotten, and by the potency of a notice to quit got rid of the whole lot of birds in consideration of a present of 5£—and have my neighbour legally bound at this moment “not to keep or allow to be kept on these premises any birds or other nuisance under penalty of 10£ and a notice to quit”— I will tell you someday how I managed it— Meanwhile I am here still, all alone—with painters (of the Silent apartment) in the house creating an atmosphere! Mr C receiving from Scotland daily letters about his Mother's increasing weakness, felt when left behind at the Grange tha[t] it would be much more suitable he should go to Scotland and see her once more than stay on amidst these festivities and so he came to town last Wednesday and started for Scotsbrig on Thursday night. I was very urgent to hurry him off, since he WAS going; for fear of his finding his Mother no more— I know what that is!—dashing along a railway in agonies of impatience and uncertainty to be told at the end “your Mother is dead”3— I have had a few lines from him to say he had found her still alive and glad to see him—tho in the last stage of weakness—

Dear Mr Redwood, my penmanship is not always so bad as this— But I have been so excited the last week—I cant even write as usual— I have dined on your mutton today and shall grow fat on all these nice things— Thank you heartily for him and for myself

Truly yours /

Jane Carlyle