July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO CHARLOTTE SOUTHAM ; 16 September 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580916-JWC-CSO-01; CL 34: 189-190


Thornhill Dumfries / Thursday [16 September 1858]

Dear Charlotte

Your letter hit me today in the most beautiful manner just in the transit from the Place where I have been these three weeks, to this Place where I shall stay some days at least. I have only, a few minutes as usual for writing in; but if I wait till tomorrow the Sunday intervenes and you will not be able to get any letter till Monday.

The winter stock of coals had best not be ordered till I return and can see about the price &c, but if you are in danger of running out altogether, you must order a ton from Aldin1 to be brought in on Monday morning—that the oil cloth may be put down clean in time for Mr Carlyle. I have no further news from him; indeed ever since he went abroad, my knowledge of his movements has been gained chiefly from the newspapers2—he has been too hurried and flurried for writing—

If he keep to the intentions he expressed in his last letter to me he will be home to you next Monday—that is the 20th, but I hope you will receive some direct instructions from himself, thro' Dr Carlyle.

I should like that he had stayed away a week or two longer that I might have been home to receive him; but not expecting him so soon, I have staid all my time at one place and have several friends and relations to visit still before I leave this country. and it would be a pity to have incurred so much expence of travelling for less than a month's stay. Besides hurry-scurrying back in time for him would probably undo any good I have got by coming

So I must just trust to your making him comfortable for a week or so; and the week after next I will return; and relieve you of your responsibility at least.

You know his ways and what he needs pretty well by this time. Trouble him with as few questions as possible— You can ask him whether he will take tea or coffee to breakfast?—and whether he would like broth, or a pudding to dinner? you must always give him one or other with his meat. and either an egg to breakfast or a slice of bacon. I think you can now cook most of the things he likes oftenest boiled fowl, mutton broth, chops and bread and ground rice puddings— If you take pains to please him I have no doubt you will. And if he look fussed and cross, never mind, so long as you are doing your best; travelling always puts him in a fever. and nobody can look and speak amiably with sick nerves— I myself know and so do you, a young Lady called Charlotte Southam who whenever she is sick, and has a headache, looks exactly as if she were ever so sulky! and I dare say she isn't sulky tho' looking it! any more than Mr Carlyle is “cross” tho' looking it to perfection!

If you can catch Mr Edwards3 the gardner it would be well to have the garden done up. Only tell him to be careful of all my little pet-plants—

You need not order in anything till Mr C arrive—or till he tell you he is positively coming—then get what is needed at your own discretion. without troubling him.

Heaven help you and him well thro it!

Take care your kitchen be in order— When he goes to light his pipe.—he will see

Yours truly /

Jane Carlyle