July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO CHARLOTTE SOUTHAM ; 11 August 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580811-JWC-CSO-01; CL 34: 119-120


Bay House Alverstoke / Hants / Wednesday [11 August 1858]

Good little Woman! It was a nice thought in you to write to me, and nicely carried into effect!1 There was both consideration and energy in the small action, and I am glad to see these qualities in my little Woman, as they will be very useful to her in Life; if she give them fair play!

But the penmanship of the letter was never your own surely! It would have been too much modesty to tell me you “could not write,” if you were up to writing like that! It might very soon be made into an excellent hand, that! and I shall feel it more than ever incumbent on me, to make you write a little every evening instead of looking out at the upstairs window!

I had a most pleasant letter from Mr Larkin, in which he told me all looked right at home, and your door-steps nice and clean! Mr Larkin must certainly be an angel in man's clothes! I am sure if one stript him he would be found to have beautiful wings!! I told him my watch stopt the day I came, and would not go again! And Imagine! on Monday morning came a small box, registered, which was found to contain a nice, gentleman's watch, going—ticking away like anything, when taken out of the cotton! Mr Larkin's own watch I dare say, or someone's who needs it for himself. But it is an immense accomodation to me, who am accustomed to look what o'clock it is, twenty or thirty times every night! and who was depending for my knowledge of the time of day, on a great Bell, ten times greater than Mr Chalmer's;2 which stunns this house six times betwixt our getting up and lying down!

Mrs Huxham wrote to me a touching effusion about “the Bird.”3 From which I could only gather this—that if he lived he would live, and if he died he would die! and that meantime he “spent whole hours” (I should think not very happy ones) in Mrs Huxham's “bosom”!!— I hope he wont expect US to keep him in our bosoms, when he returns to his anxious family! Nero wouldn't approve of that at all; and his feelings must always be consulted first, as the oldest favourite.

I have been several times sailing in Portsmouth harbour, and on board some of the vessels—but I have not fallen in with Mrs Newnhams son!4—Perhaps I saw him without knowing it— I think ‘The Excellent5 is his ship, and I sailed close by it yesterday.

Mr Carlyle is still in Dumfriesshire but thinking of going to Germany soon— Lord Ashburton was to spend yesterday with him at Dumfries—

I hope you mind to water my little green children; especially the gooseberry bush, the sweet-briar, and the infant tree, without a name.

I am not coming home this week either, not till the Saturday of next week—Miss Baring wants me stay till the 23d when she goes herself into Norfolk—But I think I will leave, by myself, on the Saturday which will make even time—and my luggage will be so much safer with no footmen to take charge of it!

I will tell Mr Larkin to give you—six more shillings next Monday or Tuesday.

I continue much better in health—sleep more like a Christian—eat regularly two dinners, one at half past one, and the other at eight! Cough very little, and am up to whatever is proposed. But my bonnet ribbons are getting frightfully dirty and my white shawl ditto! I had to buy galoshes at Portsmouth having forgot my own—all good be with you little woman

Yours kindly /

Jane Carlyle