April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


JWC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 12 June 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480612-JWC-LA-01; CL 23: 46-48


Monday [12 June? 1848]

My dear Lady Harriet

Since your note arrived at breakfast; I have enquired out, seen, and taken the particulars of two possible scullery-maids, and as it is now only twelve of the clock I may come on the traces of some more of them in the course of the day.

No 1 is a large, strapping young woman, with a physiognomy that hovers betwixt sense and softness—“will be three and twenty next September”—has lived three years with a family in Upper Cheyne Row—single servant there—not liable to colds—can have a good character from her present mistress who “has known her from a child”—“is not afraid of work”—“is leaving, of her own accord, for the heaviness of the work(?)—has in fact already left officially, another servant being come in her place; but her mistress “let her stay, doing needle-work till she find a place to suit her—” has no objection to live in the country all the year round or for any number of years round—“rather prefers the country”—had 12£ of wages where she is—would prefer the situation of scullery maid “in a high family” to any other situation being “desirous to get on into cook”—is not, I think, without promptings of ambition. Finally No 1 is, Irish and thinks no shame of herself for that.

No 2 is less in stature—considerably—upper half of her face cheery and intelligent—under half questionable; a mouthful of teeth slightly projecting to one side give it something of a shilly-shallying look— She is two and twenty—is single servant at No 10 of this street—went there in room of a Sister who fell sick, and her sister having died, had stayed on ten months without having intended it—is leaving now of her own accord having “strong inclinations for cooking” and her present mistress doing all the cooking herself—would like of all things the place of scullery-maid “in a good Family,” where she could “learn something”—has had eight pounds a year of wages where she is; but would “expect a bit more if she went into a good family”—“can have a satisfactory character from her present Mistress and can assure me that she is very respectably connected”—no objections to the country, “Oh no indeed!"—"rather likes heat” (this taste was elicited by my question; if she were strong enough for hot kitchen-work?) No 2 has every drop of blood in her English

Both these Damsels will seek no further, till I have heard whether you would like either or both of them sent to Bath House for further investigation. If I hear of any other more promising I will write again.

I enclose a letter from India which contains some rather interesting details of English Life at Loodiana. The Writer is a beautiful little deaf Lady who bestowed herself and fortune on that Capt Mackenzie who was, after Lady Sale, our greatest Afghanistan Lion.1 I never saw such an instance of a woman loving a man “for the dangers he had passed”2— The moment Capt M. began his Tale, which he had to tell over at least once in every company; the little deaf wife, however occupied elsewhere, seemed to know by instinct, and would hasten towards him, and sit down with her ear within two inches of his mouth, and exhibit all the different phases of emotion which his narrative could possibly have excited in her at the first hearing—and all this without the least affectation in the world I really believe—she always struck me as a most sincere, natural little woman. I send too a note of female criticism on the Halfsisters which Lady Ashburton may perhaps like to read, as one small evidence that all my friends who think and write upon woman are not so entirely immoral after all! it is from a sister of Mrs Paulets, Emma Newton, who wrote a book in one volume called the Unbeliever.3

Ever faithfully / JW Carlyle