1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL; October 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18541000-JWC-MR-01; CL 29: 155-157


5 Cheyne Row / Wednesday [early October 1854]

On getting your first letter dear Mrs Russell—before reading a word of it—I knew it was about poor Mary;1 that it was to tell me she was dying or dead. for, you see; glad as I should be to hear from you oftener, you never write to me “all from yourself—out of your own head” (as the children say) and of poor old Mary at her age, any news could be hardly good news. If you had not mentioned that she was not in need of money, I should have written instantly to beg you to supply what was needed. As it was; being in the first heavy stupidity of a great cold in my head, I waited till I should be in a clearer mood, and also rather expecting a second letter from you to the purport of the one now come. It is well the poor old kindhearted creature has had so gentle an end—at her age life could scarcely be a blessing and yet she seemed content to hold to it such as it was, and so one wished her to live— Besides I have always felt her a sort of living legacy from my darling Mother, and now even that poor little tie is broken! and there is one heart fewer in the world of those who loved my mother and gratefully revered her memory.

I have not a doubt that all was done for her that could be done to prolong her existence and to make her end soft— I have the most implicit reliance on your kindness of heart and on your wish also to supply my Mothers place to poor Mary—God bless you for all the troubles you have taken about her. You will tell me when convenient about her funeral, and if there be any thing to pay after her own money was expended. I had hoped to see the poor soul again before she departed from this earth where her place was so mean and yet so tolerable thro the contented grateful spirit in which she accepted it. I should have liked to hear her speak of my Mother— But my last look at her innocent face was taken the day I stept out at the Templand gate2—never to find a home there again. And how many others are gone since then!

We have staid quietly here this whole year, in spite of the Cholera3— But indeed what use is there in flying from Cholera in a town, when it finds its way into such fresh open places as about Ecclefechan— It was very sad to walk out her4 for many weeks—in a single half mile of street I often met as many as six funerals. I think I have not written to you, have I, since Mrs John Carlyle's death— That was a horrid business— It looked such a waste of a Woman and Child. Of course she was to die— Yet humanly viewed one could not help believing if she had staid at home and taken the ordinary cares of herself that her situation required, she might have born a living child and done well. But her constant excursions on railways and sight seeings and house huntings seemed to us often even before the accident which brought on her mortal illness, a sheer tempting of providence.

I heard from my Aunt Elizabeth5 the other day, and she sent with her letter a small book on “Grace.” They are indefatigable in their efforts at conversion— Except to “Convert me” she seem to take no interest in me whatever— Mrs George Welsh is coming to stay at Richmond with her son6—thro' the winter at least— He is a good and clever lad and a kind son as ever was made— I only wish he had more salary to be kind with.

My kind regards to your Father and husband— Believe me dear Mrs Russell

ever affectionately yours

Jane Carlyle