January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


JWC TO MARY CARLYLE AUSTIN ; 7 February 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590207-JWC-MCA-01; CL 35: 21-23


5 Cheyne Row Chelsea Monday [7 Feb. 1859?]

Oh my poor dear little Woman! I declare I could put my arms round your neck, and cry over you!—about those eggs!— If only, crying might mend broken eggs—or broken anything!—which it won't!— The next thing I am tempted to do is to tell you a good round lie, smack-out! to describe the eggs as having arrived all whole this time; not so much as one cracked one among them. But what then? You would go on believing in this principle of egg-packing! and practising it, on occasion, with such waste of the largest freshest beautifulest eggs in Creation, as is lamentable to think of!— Besides, that I have a certain objection to telling lies, when one isn't absolutely driven to it!! so here goes for the truth; little as it pleases me to tell it, or will please you to hear it! My Dear! that box arrived all right outwardly; not a nail loosened in it—no egg dripping out! and I took off the lid “with my own hands”1—and chisel. The first lair of hay being tenderly lifted off disclosed——“immortal smash”!!2 certainly two thirds of that first lair of eggs had to be lifted with a spoon! some, clean spilt in the hay, “could not be gathered!” And so it went on to the bottom; in spite of your clever expedient of nailing the “chuka3 to the box; so that IT had exercised no fatal influence on the rest of the contents. The result was not so desperate this time as last time however; tho’ as large a proportion of eggs were broken there were not so many lost—not above eight or ten quite spilt—all the rest, with more or less in them, were put in a dish by themselves. and I am eating them poached or fried and Mr C is having them in puddings. Now, tho’ I have told you the fact of the case dear Mary I wont have you vexing your kind heart about it. Your part had been done with all the zeal and pains and generosity conceivable—even to prepaying the carriage—which I declare to be a piece of handsomeness perfectly unusual in this world! and which certainly nobody ever dreams of doing for us except your magnanimous self! Besides there are a great many whole eggs to the fore! quite as many as will serve him for breakfast as long as they will be fresh— Bless you it is not above a week since he had the last of the former escaped two dozen!!— And there will be plenty to be had here, fresh enough, by the time these are done. It is only in the middle of summer and in the middle of winter that the supply breaks down.

I will write you a letter of greater length and not smeared over with egg, some day soon. Just now I am obliged to break off—to prepare for a drive in “a neat Fly” which Mr C has forced on me twice a week—and the expense of which seems to me to greatly outride the project!

Bless you I can get a good jumble, 12 or fourteen miles long, for one shilling, in a clean, roomy, Omnibus!— The gentility is all the advantage on the ‘Fly’ side of the question! and really having been used to set gentility at defiance when my years and my looks and my habits made such proceedings riskish for myself, and questionable in the eyes of others, I dont see why the deuce I should be told by Mr C, now, when nobody is at the trouble to think about or remark upon me, and when I myself am completely habituated to self dependence—that “really my dear it is quite IMPROPER for YOU to be going in Omnibuses!! one should conform to the customs of the people one lives among!!” Lord! Lord! It was a very different story that was impressed on my youthful mind, when I had to go to somebody (Murry's) marriage, with Mr C a few weeks after my own marriage4 in a wet night—in my thin white dress—with an umbrella and a pair of Pattens!! To be “above the prejudices of the people one lived among” was then required of me every day and every hour— Men are curious creatures after all! and so are women for that matter! Love to your belongings and your good little self

Yours / affectionately /

Jane Carlyle