July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO TC ; 12 August 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580812-JWC-TC-01; CL 34: 122-124


Bay House / Alverstoke Thursday [12 August 1858]

Oh my Dear! How little it takes to “dash the cup of Fame from one's brow!” Yesterday morning being “intangled in the details”1 of a bit of tough toast (aristocratic toast always is tough, as you know!) a foreign substance improvised itself in my mouth, which on private investigation proved to be half of a tooth! Not a front one thanks God!2 a quite unimportant tooth, back most but one, and useless to eat with these two years! The accident therefore was of the most trivial; but the part of the tooth left in my head was broken in the manner of a saw and in process of time cut into my tongue! and a miserable day and miserable night were the consequence of this trumpery little misfortune! If I had been within reach of Stokes3 the thing could have been rectified in a minute—but I needed to draw inspiration from desperation before I went in search of a file and proceeded to act upon the tooth myself— Mrs Mildmay, who has everything, had the requisite little file—and in spite of the pain, I filed down the jagged points, and now I am all right and can speak without my mouth filling with blood!

I am glad the meeting with Lord A came off, and so successfully. But what of the “man with a yacht”? such a lot of yachts are doing nothing in Portsmouth harbour!— I have been on board a man of war and shown every corner of it by the Captain. Mrs Mildmay hearing me say I had never seen one, immediately recollected that the Captain4 of The Renown5 had been her husbands Lieutenant and took me on board it. Another day, she stops the carriage on meeting a certain Capt Hamilton,6 and made him come in—and I found it was that he might accompany us there and then to the Camp, which I had expressed a wish to see, and could not go to without a male escort. I never saw a more goodnatured woman, or a more lively. She never lets Emily and me stagnate. She was telling us a deal about the Duke of Malakoff our present Russian Ambassador7—a great Bear, and a great Profligate. He was dining in company with Lady Jersey8 who happened to assert, in her affected way, that she for her part regretted nothing—“Pas vrai,” said Malakoff, “Pas vrai Madame! vous regrettez bien de choses! vous regrettez d'être veille9 femme!! vous regrettez beaucoup beaucoup votre beauté fletri!!! [Not true, Madam! you regret many things! you regret being old! you regret very very much your fading beauty!!!]

There is a most improper female whose name very properly is Skittles10 (!) she road11 alone in the Park12 every day this summer, and was I dare swear one of those “perfectly respectable Ladies” whom you remarked riding without escort. On her way to the Park she passed before the windows of Malakoff—“Ah! Said he, voila Mademoiselle Skittles! Je voudrais bien la regardez pres [I would very much like to have a closer view of her]”! (I am not sure of my French but you see what I would say) and thereupon he ordered his aid de camp to go, and bring Mademoiselle Skittles to him! A nice commission for a gentleman! which however the aid de Camp felt bound to execute. But Miss Skittles being politely stopt and told the Duke's wish, answered scornfully; “say to the old Brute if he wants to see me he may come here”! and set off at a gallop!

After all, there never was or will be such a man as Larkin! My watch took to stopping about the time I was leaving town, and I gave it him to see if any thing could be done to it, to keep it going on till there should be time for having it cleaned— He brought it back going—having “had a touch of oil”—and it went till the morning after I came here—and stopt—dead.

I told this to Larkin when writing to him for Charlotte; and the other morning arrived a little box registered containing a nice little gentleman's watch—his own most likely, or somebody's that is inconvenienced by lending it to me! and such a pleasant letter with it—

Lady Sandwich, supposing me still at Chelsea, wrote to invite me to Addiscombe. I should have liked to go, had I been disengaged; for I think the benefit would not there as here have been “with the reciprocity all on one side”13— She must be dull at Addiscombe alone—

Good by Dear— I have covered a stock14 for you here— Would you like it sent?

Yours ever

Jane W Carlyle