The Collected Letters, Volume 26


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH; 21 January 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510121-JWC-JW-01; CL 26: 20-22


[21 January 1851]

Dearest Babbie

The announcement of that box, followed within a few hours by the concrete fact was somewhat in the nature of a “heaping of coals of fire” & c1— Having already for some days been reproaching myself with the failure of my promise to write “immediately”; my conscience held its hands before its face, under the unmerited kindness of your and Walters practical remembrance of us and our tastes— Everything was in perfect order—the cakes unbroken—and the fowls sound.— Fanny's2 countenance, which had overcast when told there were two fowls in the box, brightened into ecstasy when she saw them—plucked! Oh, she said, whoever did up this box has some sense I was terrified I was going to have a job like the last! The “last” was four fowls from Mrs Newton3 at Christmas all rejoicing in their full compliment of feathers and “interiors”; accordingly beginning to spoil—and “so hard to pluck” that Fanny “quite cried over them”!— The bacon is most particularly welcome— There is nothing else one likes to breakfast and it is grown, I suppose in consequence of the reform Bill, 4 absolutely impossible to be got good in the shops. If it is not rancid it is as salt as fire—and the hams we sometimes get from Annandale are no better— We had a slice a piece of that blessed roll this morning and found it excellent— Pray assure Walter of our gratified and grateful feelings and compliment Anne5—whom I wish I had here for a month to teach us a thing or two!— My Domestic affairs still go on smoothly enough—tho hardly so flourishingly as at first— Any servant that could do at all was likely to have a shine of transfiguration about her after such botheration as I had last Atumn—and now I see this one in her natural proportions and colours— She is a pretty fair servant in all departments—and is very quiet, and peaceable, and not, I should think, of an unsettled turn— I have had harder workers, more enlightened cooks, more intelligent women—but take her all together she suits me as well as any of them— In point of intellect indeed she is surpassed I should think by many a sparrow or honey-bee! she is thrown into tears of apprehension by the sight of a winding sheet at the candle!6—consults fortune tellers with implicit faith!—cries if you say the meat was overdone—and—does it the same way next time—in short is very weak—but sad to say people generally pervert their strength to such bad uses that weak servants are the most useful and manageable—I have found— The most ominous symptom about her is that she has gone deaf— On newyearsday I let her go out to dinner—the omnibus took her a mile past the place—she lost her road was tired and splashed and belated—“lay on a sofa and cried” all the time she was with her friend—and next morning got up quite deaf and has continued so ever since! The poor creature is in an odd state of health in fact—at four and twenty she had an ague fever and has never been unwell since! now five or six years!—her stomach is very large—but she is very pretty, and clear in the complexion, and has no inconvenience from this stoppage except a general nervous delicacy— So long as she is not fussed or, exposed to any cold or hardship she ails nothing at all—

The predecessor is only now out of the hospital—and I am trying to find her a situation— I don't know how it is I am sure I lay myself out as little as ever woman did to be benevolent for “others”—but there is an everlasting drop of that sort of thankless work put on me— Besides her, I have two other girls to find places for just now— I have also been involved in a most bothering correspondence—with and about a Lady—but I must leave that “branch of method” (as Walter would say or ought to say) till another opportunity—having an appointment to see Miss Farrer,7 before two about somebody's— —dog that has been stolen!! Miss F knows the address of the Head of the London dog Stealers—

I have begun on the wrong side of the paper— Cant be helped now— My dear Uncle! I shall write to him soon again—certainly—you ought all to go home and cheer him up a bit—his Benjamin8 must be a dreadful loss—

Kindest regards to Helen and Walter—

Ever your affectionate

Jane Carlyle

I have to write also to old Betty9 God bless her!—before I go out—

Imagine her sending me up here by steam a currant loaf and two barm scones!—that I used to like—the scones are famous the currant loaf bad as all Edinr bread.