August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 31 August 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430831-JWC-TC-01; CL 17: 103-106


Thursday [31 August 1843]—


The enclosed note from John1 arrived last night along with yours announcing his departure for Liverpool.

I wish he had been coming after you instead of before you or even with you— I had set my heart on your hanselling the clean house yourself—and that there would have been a few days in peace to inspect its “curiosities and niceties” before he came plunging in to send all the books afloat, and litter the floors with first and second and third and fourth scrawls of verfailed [sic: verfehlt: uncompleted] Letters! But like Mademoiselle L'Espinasse, son talent est d'être toujours hors de propos [his talent is to be always unsuited to the occasion]!2— If he cared about seeing oneself it would be quite different—but if the house would go on like those charming palaces one read of in the fairy tales, where clothes are found hanging ready at the fire to be put on by the wearied traveller, and a table comes up thro the floor all spread to appease his hunger; oneself might be a thousand miles off, or like the enchanted Princess of these establishments might be running about in the shape of “a little mouse” without his contentment being disturbed or indeed any thing but increased by the blank— Howsomeelever!— Only, when you come I shall insist on going into some room with you and locking the door; till we have had “a quiet comfortable talk about time and space”3 untormented by his blether [foolish talk]— Meanwhile “the duty nearest hand”4 is to get on the stair carpets, which have been off all this while, that he may run up and down more softly!— There came also last night a note from Bolte which put me about considerably— She accepted the Bullers proposal wrote me a very nice letter to that effect, which I immediately forwarded to Mrs Buller—but along with it I sent a letter from myself stating that until they heard from me again they were to hold the engagement as unconcluded—the Macreadys having proposed to take her at a salary of £100—and I must communicate with her on that proposal before taking her acceptance of theirs, given in ignorance of the other, as difinitive. I wrote to herself telling all I knew of the Macready situation—the number of little children—apt to fall sick—and every now and then needing to take medecine and have their stomachs rubbed with warm flannel—drew in short as fair a comparison as I could between the Buller situation at £60 and the Macready one at £100—desiring her if she inclined towards the latter to come up from Brentwood5 on this evening and I would give her a bed—that she might be in readiness to go to the Macreadys tomorrow at an hour they had appointed for seeing her— As Mrs Macready could not be easy unless “William had sounded her depth” before setting out to America.

She answered me by return of post—very sensibly—that the salary would be dreadfully counter balanced by the tender years and multitude of the children—that she feared the tone of the house would not suit her—and that having been in the family of an Actor might be “a terminus” to her carreer as Governess— I however, she thought, knowing them personally and knowing how far the english prejudice against actors extended was better able to decide for her than herself was—and so she ended by bidding me “take her fate into my own hands and send her where I thought she would be best”—I decided at once as I would have done had it been for myself—that she should adhere to the Bullers—and an hour after having received her letter yesterday forenoon I had written to Mrs Buller that she would be ready for her on the 1st of October and to Mrs Macready that for the present she declined taking charge of such young children— And at five when I was complaisantly reflecting that there was another piece of business fairly wound up—comes another note from Bolte—apparently quite reconciled to the Macready situation by merely having slept upon it—and asking, would it suit me to have her, and them to see her on Sunday?6 I wrote her a long letter before going to bed—telling her that as she had empowered me to act for her I had done so with decision and promptitude that she might not fall down between two stones—and that now she was to go to the Bullers and no more about it— But I must off to my Staircarpets Helen you know cannot drive a nail tho' it were to save her soul alive— I sent on a letter from Alick (?) to John yesterday which I rather felt tempted to break open—kindest regards to all— Poor Mary her illness lasts long—and she can so ill afford to be sick—

Affectionately yours

Jane Carlyle