April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL; 29 December 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18481229-JWC-MR-01; CL 23: 191-192


5 Cheyne Row 29th December [1848]

My dear Mrs Russell

Here is another year done—and you and I are still here to say ‘rest in peace’ to it. I hope the new one finds you better in health than you were last winter— There has been a sad time again in your neighbourhood—it is very strange why Dumfries should be so particularly visited by this disease—“dirty”? why yes! but can anyone say it is to be compared in dirt to St Giles s1 and many other parts of London and Edin where there has been next to no cholera at all—then they talk of the water—but the Thames at Chelsea must be infinitely more impure water than the Nith at Dumfries The finest, thought of all was Lochor Moss being the cause!—and all the people living on and nearest to the Moss having no cholera at all! What does Dr Russell think? There has been much sickness here tho pretty free from Cholera—chiefly smallpox and scarlet fever— I do think these mild winters are dreadfully unwholesome— Still I individually may be thankful for the delay of the frost as I am still going about, free from cough— I suffer plenty with my headachs and sickness at stomach—but all that only lay me up for a day at a time—and I have got to be quite content if I can only keep out of bed and the confinement of my own room during winter.

Pray write me a good long letter about your self and Father and Husband and every body I know there— You have no notion how welcome a letter of home news always is to me, even when there is nothing new or strange to tell

I went no further than Hampshire this autumn we staid six weeks at a fine Place called the Grange, belonging to Lord Ashburton—the visit was anything but a retirement—for in London we should not have seen half as many people—the House being filled with company the whole time—on my return to town I had to undergo a change of servant—if change it can be called this time—the nice little woman I had had these two years had made up her mind at last to conclude her five-years courtship and go off with her husband to live in Jersey— I was very sorry for I had got to like her extremely well—and she was very sorry too, but people must get married before all! She was quite willing however to wait till I could get “settled” (as they call it here) to my mind—and before I had so much as begun to unsettle myself, there came a letter from my old Helen, giving me to know that her irish adventure had been no go, that she was returned to Kircaldy keeping “a small shop” there, which was not like to be a go either and in short that she would like to go to service again— If I knew any place for her in London— It was plain enough she wished to come back here— and in my horror of strangers I told her to come then since Ann was going at any rate— I hardly think I did wisely—the two years of insubordination and breaking up of all old habits were likely to have increased all the faults it had taken me so long to put down in her—and I do find her very tiresome as yet—and if she do not improve thro the winter I shall have to change again when the warm weather comes, and I am likely to keep on foot—

I send you a Christmas book—written by the cleverest popular writing we have just now—but hardly worthy of him I think—the plates are the best of it2

I send too a money order for Margaret and Mary's3 tea and what else you like—and two worsted things to keep their heads warm—

God bless you dear Mrs Russell and all who are dear to you

Ever yours affectionately

Jane W. Carlyle