July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


JWC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 6 December 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471206-JWC-MAC-01; CL 22: 173-174


5 Cheyne Row Monday [6? December 1847]

My dear Mrs Carlyle

We are very thankful to hear you are getting rid of your giddiness; and for my own share I have double cause to be thankful, for when anything ails his Mother, my Husband is so unhappy that I have two to feel uneasy about. Jamie says he thinks you read more than is good for you, and Jamie always knows what he is saying better than most men. “In every inordinate cup there is a Devil”; so it may easily be that even in the apparently laudible ‘inordinate cup’ of reading, there may be a devil of giddyness!1 So don't like a good woman read at such a wild rate!— besides I want you to do something for me which, if you will undertake, will leave you less time to pore over books. You sent me a pair of stockings by Carlyle which are very warm, and very pretty, but a degree too small—especially the legs of them seem to have been knitted for two pot-sticks rather than for well-shaped, goodly sized woman's-legs like mine. Carlyle told me that Margaret Austin2 knitted them, and I have been thinking to have knit all my woolen stockings; only from a pattern,—with room for a certain amount of calf,—which I could send her (not the calf—but the pattern) but if she have not fine soft yarn to make them of, no matter how well they are shaped so I have also been thinking to ask you to spin the yarn for me, and then I should have “a perfect article”; as the Shopkeepers here say—besides the sentiment of the thing—there is a sort of dark-coloured lambs wool that one wears without being died, which would suit this abominable City better than white—tho I would like some white ones too—if I could get them. I am wearing just now a sort of yellow-brown stockings! that my very kitten stares at in amazement as I walk about the room—but I wear them in sublime indifference to the kitten's ideas of the becoming, and to everybody else's they are so soft and warm—but then they are an “extortionful price”—like all new things here—novelty being considered the essence of genteelity

We continue all pretty well—tho' the sickness around is quite sad to hear tell of. So many people dead of influenza and scarlet fever! When I remember last year at this time I cannot be too thankful, that things are as they are so far as our own house is concerned— The little servant I got last newyears day has turned out a real godsend—so quiet, and orderly, and honest, The house was never so peaceably managed since I was mistress— I have not had to transact one scold since this girl came to me— She is an excellent cook, and the only objection I had to her in the beginning—a sort of want of enthusiasm for things in general and my work in particular has gradually disappeared— She seems now quite as much interested in us as Helen3 was tho She does not make such a prodigious fuss about it.

I have heard nothing from the said Helen for a long while; her last letter was so full of nonsense about her ‘servants’ and ‘Country House,’ and ‘housefuls of visitors, that I had not patience to answer it—

Tell Isabella with my kind love to send us frequent news suppose it were only a couple of lines at a time—

A kiss to Jamie—and to you and Isabella too if you like—

Ever affectionately

Yours Jane W. Carlyle