July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO CHARLOTTE SOUTHAM ; 3 September 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580903-JWC-CSO-01; CL 34: 167-169


Lann Hall Tynron / Dumfries Friday [3 September 1858]

Dear Charlotte

I sent you, on my arrival here a few lines, inclosed to our Postman (Mr Bullock) about a little gold ring, I hoped you might find for me in my bason-stand or somewhere. And I hoped to have heard from you, yes or no, before this. The ring is of little value in itself, but I valued it highly for the sake of the person1 who gave it me. and should be rejoiced to hear that it was found

It is not about that however that I write today; but to tell you that I dont expect Mr Carlyle will stay long in Germany, and that you must get on with your house-sorting—that you may not share the fate of the seven foolish virgins in the Scripture who were found with their lamps untrimmed.2

It will be a great shame to you, if you have not the house perfectly sorted when we return—having for so long had no family to attend to but Nero.— In particular, I wish you would give the drawing room grate not one but several good scourings— I did not at all admire that state in which you were letting it lie over till wanted!

If the people at Waterloo House3 have not sent home the bed-tick;4 you had better ask Mrs Gilchrist5 (if she have returned) or Mrs Royston to be so kind as hasten them about it; for it would be better to fill it in Mr Carlyles dressing room as you proposed—and at the same time, his rooms ought not to be left till the last moment.

I dont remember the name, but Waterloo House near Charingcross is direction enough

In the last letter I had from Mr Carlyle he said it was likely he would get thro all he had to do in Germany in a couple of weeks—I dont know yet whether he will go straight to Chelsea or come back thro Scotland and pick me up. But even if he do come this way he wont like putting off more time here. And if he go home by himself, I should put off no time in returning. So you see the need of letting no grass grow under your feet! I think myself it will probably be three weeks before we return, but as it may be rather less you must be prepared for that—

When you have put down the carpet in the drawing room don't bring out any china or little things— Dr Carlyle is dangerous for breaking when he has the run of the house.

When you clean the furniture ask Mrs Newnham to mix you some beeswax and soap, as she knows how—and then use it very sparingly indeed, having first carefully washed the furniture with soap and warmish water—you should rub up the fourposted beds as well as the dining room chairs &c—

If you saw how all the things do shine in this house! and yet I should say by the look of her face, that the housemaid here is neither so active nor so clever a girl as you are! and she is but some two or at most three years older But the Lady6 is very particular and will have things right about her; and I observe that those who demand most of their fellow creatures always get the best attended to! which does not say much for human generosity—

Yesterday I dined at a mere farm-house;7 and of all the well-cooked dinners I ever sat down to, it was the foremost! Such puddings and pastry it would have defied Lord Ashburton's gentleman-french cook,8 at three hundred a year, to make the like of!— It was all done by a country girl with the assistance of her Mistress!9Ladies” here are not ashamed to be useful as well as ornamental—and a great blessing that is to their Husbands and visitors I felt quite envious yesterday of that Lady's talent for housekeeping—and would have liked to put myself apprentice to her. It is honourable to any woman to be able to produce as much comfort and elegance on some eight hundred a year as most people cannot produce on eight thousand! We must improve you and I— Yours truly

Jane Carlyle