The Collected Letters, Volume 25


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 10 August 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500810-JWC-TC-01; CL 25: 148-150


Saturday [10 August 1850]

Oh my Dear

Why havn't you sent me the least scrap this morning; tho it were but to say that all these cocks have been made into one huge cockyleekee,1 or that you have learnt to sleep thro them. There can be no letter now till Tuesday perhaps you forgot that, as I forgot that you could receive none on Sunday. I have been so busy and so bothered! was so needing a word of comfort this morning from the only quarter that comfort can come! Your friends the Destinies have been very impropitious to me since you went away, every thing I have undertaken has gone wrong. I applied to Mr Piper to send me a man (Weston)2 to whiten the parlour-ceilings, a man who had worked for me before, Posty who has a fault of always doing every thing over well, sent Weston's “best workman” instead of himself saying “it would be a better bargain for both the man and me”—we settled that the job was to be done on Monday for eight shillings—the rooms were all laid waste to be ready for Monday—but all day we expected our white washer in vain—at night he came to make excuses and promise for the morrow—but nothing of him on Tuesday either. at length after breakfast came another man who said the first man being detained elsewhere had “made over the job to him.” I asked was he sure he could do it without spotting the paper—he scouted the idea of such a possibility—I “might depend on it there should not be a single spot”— So he fell to work with clean water in the first instance, and I left him to go after your bathing cap— I took the cap to Grafton street to seal up and Miss Wynn insisted on my stopping to Luncheon—which I did; thinking it would save trouble at home to eat my dinner there. I came home about four and walked into the parloure, first thing and saw what struck me speechless! the whole paper smeared and spotted with white-wash—not the size of a page of this notepaper clean! to say nothing of all the furniture in the same state! Elizabeth having in her devilishness left it all at his mercy— The upper border of the paper was—irretrievably spoiled—and the body of it would take such scraping and rubbing for days as I dreaded to think of—and even the ceilings had to be done over again! by the original man—whom I was thankful to get to come at five of the morning (his only spare time) In the middle of such a disheartening mess it came very unopportunely for me to have to keep my engagement with Mrs Austin for Thursday—but it was better I had engaged myself—and was forced to take voluntarily a day of respite from my disgusting rubbing of the walls—which Elizabeth would not touch—(her conduct since your departure has been more insanity than anything else—I am inquiring after another servant in all directions—being quite determined not to endure this sort of thing a day longer than I can help especially as Craik who came the other night now talks of taking his “treasure” to Ireland with them “for a few weeks just to settle them there”—thus removing her still further into the vague—) I will tell you all about Austindom in another letter—the paper is most important— well—I have finished with it an hour ago—after two of the most fagging days works I ever transacted in this world but it looks as well as ever— All but the top border which must be renewed— My hand is so shaky with the exercise that I can write no better than as you see—and my brains too are shaky—and of the two hours I had left myself for writing miss Swanwick3 has eaten up one.— I hope I dont fret you with these accounts of my “troubles that afflict the just”4 If I thought so, I would not say anything about them—

I must off to the post office and then on to a woman who may have some news of a servant—I believe the secret of Elizabeth's behaviour is that she knows of a place where she would like to go, and wishes to have the train all ready for firing, when she is sure of getting it— I overheard Mr Piper asking her this morning “if she was still for that place?—had she been to apply yet—” it was at the open window—and she knew I was just behind her—she made him a sign to go on and answered hurriedly—“Yes yes—Ill tell you after”— I feel very sad at her conduct I really liked her, and have used her so very kindly—and no servant—excepting Isabella5 and the Irishwoman6— ever insulted me as she has done—but that cloud will blow by—ever your affectionate

Jane Carlyle