August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


JWC TO ISABELLA CARLYLE ; 7 February 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580200-JWC-IC-01; CL 33: 179-180


[early February 1858]

all the news public and private, Mr C, when he comes in from his two hours walk about Town, asks me, always in the corner of my own sofa; “Well my Dear, what news is there today?”—which sounds whimsical enough!

My chief annoyance during the winter has been from Ann, who became more and more lalying,1 and sullen, and disobliging till it was clear to me she must be meaning to “leave” and the uncertainty about the when, in such a time of helplessness, fretted me extremely— It is all settled now however that she is to go at the end of her quarter (29th of March)— I have not found anyone to replace her yet, and hardly expect at all to find a person who will go on as smoothly on the whole as this stiff tempered woman has done for five and a half years. At the same time; beyond the inconvenience of losing her, there will be no sorrow about it; for I have never liked or trusted her as a woman. In her bland moods as in her sullen ones I have all along thought her about the most artful, and selfish, and impracticable human being I ever lived beside. Her going vexes me chiefly on Mr C's account; that his servant should place his pipe on the right side of the fire and all that sort of thing is much more to him than that she should have a good temper or a good heart; He does not come in contact with her qualities as a woman, only with her capabilities as a servant. Mr Tait is on the trail of “a respectable Scotch woman” for me; “between 24 and 25 years of age”— Scotch women did not use to be “respectable” so early! I dont know if anything will come of it.

Mrs Gilchrist, our next door neighbour had a “thoroughly respectable” nurse-maid,2 to whom she “forgave an unpleasant temper, for the sake of her good moral character and the example to the children”; and one morning before breakfast, the exemplary young woman bore a child, and strangled it, and locked it away in her trunk! and there had to be a coroners inquest3 and the Devil to pay! Such things happen in well regulated families

My love and a kiss to Jamie. Poor old Betty!4 tell her I am sorry for her. The cheery birring body5 will be missed!

Yours affectionately / Jane Welsh Carlyle