The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 8 October 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18521008-JWC-JAC-01; CL 27: 329-331


5 Cheyne Row / Friday [8 October 1852]

My dear John

The last letter you got from me lay here two days before it got posted— I was put in what Anthony Sterling calls “a state of mind” and forgot it in my pocket— It was written at Hemus Terrace, that letter, late at night—and after writing it I went to bed, and I awoke with a bad headach, and when I got up at my usual hour (six oclock) I reeled about like “a drunk” (as Mazzini would say) But as no coffee or attentions were to be expected there I would go home to breakfast as usual, and after splashing my head with cold water succeeded in getting my clothes on. When I opened the front door it was a deluge of rain, and I had only thin silk shoes with holes in them, and no umbrella— A beautiful outlook with a sick headach! I rang the bell and implored the Landladys daughter to lend me a pair of clogs and an umbrella, and these being vouchsafed me I dragged home, thinking resolutely on the hot coffee that Fanny would have all ready for me, to be taken at the kitchen fire, and the kind sympathy that she would accompany it with—on reaching my own door I could hardly stand, and leant on the rails till it was opened. Fanny did not open it but a Mrs Heywood who had been assisting in the cleaning for some days—a decent, disagreeable young woman—“Oh!” she said, the first thing, “we are so glad you are come! Fanny is in such a way! the house has been broken into during the night, The Police are now in the kitchen”! Here was a cure for a sick headach! and it did cure it! “Have they taken much” I asked “Oh all Fannys best things and a silver table spoon and a table cloth besides”!— A mercy it was no worse! in the kitchen stood two police sergeants, writing down in a book the stolen items from Fanny's dictation, she poor thing looking deathly—There was no coffee of course—no fire even—every thing had gone to distraction. The thieves had come in at the Larder window which Mr Morgan had kept without a frame (!) for three weeks—the bolts on the outside of the back kitchen door had saved the whole house from being robbed—for Fanny slept sound and never heard them— They had taken her nice new large trunk out of the back kitchen into the larder broken off the lock and tumbled all the contents on the floor carrying away two shawls two new dresses and a variety of articles—along with the spoon which had unluckily been left after creaming the milk for my tea, and a tablecloth (good) which had been drying Nero—they had also drank the milk for my breakfast, and eaten a sweet cake baked for me by Mrs Piper!—but they had not taken one half of Fanny's clothes which are all excellent—nor three sovereigns which she had lying wrapt in a bit of brown paper at the bottom of her box—nor a good many things of mine that were lying open in a basket for the Laundress, and which they had also tumbled on the floor, nor many little things lying about in the back kitchen which would have been useful to them. Whence I infer that they had been frightened away—Fanny tho' not conscious of having heard them said that about midnight “something awoke her,” and she stretched out her hand for her handkerchief which lay on a table at her bedside, and in so doing knocked over the brass candlestick which “made a devil of a row”—doubtless that had disturbed them, or we should have lost more— As it was Fannys loss amounted to four sovereigns, I computed, which of course I gave her, tho she was not expecting poor thing to be compensated—and kept declaring she was thankful it was her and not the Mistress that had lost most— My dear there were dirty prints of naked feet all over the larder shelf on which they stept from the window a piece of the new shelf burnt with a candle that had been stuck to it—a mercy the fine new house was not set on fire—Policemen, four of them, kept coming in plain clothes and in Uniform for the next three days talking the most confounded nonsense—and then died away re infecta [nothing done] not a trace of any of the corpus delicti found— Mr Chambers1 had a pair of heavy steps carried over his wall and applied to a window of No 1 the same night—and a pair of bad worsted stockings left in his Conservatory—the carrying away of the steps proved there had been more than one thief, as they were too heavy for one to take over a high wall—the window at No 1 was got up a little way but stuck there. Almost every night since, some house in the immediate neighbourhood has been entered or attempted and still the Police go about “with their fingers in their mouths”! Of course I no longer went out to sleep—but occupied the sofa below where the paint was least noxious— Fanny was thrown into such a nervous state that I was sure she would take a nervous fever if she were not relieved from all sense of responsibility—which could only be thro my own presence in the house So I declined Mr Pipers offer to come and sleep here—instead of me— Besides, as they had seen our open condition—ladders of all lengths lying in the garden and all the windows to the back except the parlour ones absolutely without fastening (!) I had considerable apprehensions that they would return in greater force—and Mr Piper his Wife confessed to me—“would be useless against thieves as he slept like a stone.” I sleep lightly enough for such emergencies and if I had to wait several days before the carpenter would return to put on the fastenings, I could at least furnish myself with a pair of loaded pistols— Capital good ones lie at my bedside every night—the identical pistols with which old Walter of the Times2 was to have fought his duel which did not come off—bars of iron I got put in the larder window next day independently of Mr Morgan— In a day or two more these bothering ladders will be taken away—and then when I go to the Grange on Friday Mr Piper can come for the consolation of Fannys imagination and sleep as sound as he likes— I took care to let all the workmen and extraneous people about know of my loaded pistols— The Painter came and examined them one day when I was out and said to Fanny “I shouldnt like to be a thief within twenty feet of your Mistress with one of these pistols in her hand—I shouldnt give much for my life; she has such a devil of a straight eye”!! These workmen have all had to suffer a good deal from my ‘EYE’ which has often proved their foot rules and leads in error— In writing to Isabella tonight I said nothing of all this in case of frightening your Mother nor have I told Mr Carlyle in case she3 should take it in his head to be uneasy—which is not likely but just possible

And now goodnight and kind regards to the Baing

Affectionately yours

Jane Carlyle