October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


JWC TO MARY AUSTIN ; 2 January 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570102-JWC-MCA-01; CL 32: 68-69


5 Cheyne Row / Chelsea / 2d Jany / 57

My dear Mary

The Box came yesterday all safe—not so much as one egg cracked! and just in time to have one of the fowls boiled for Mr C's dinner. Mr C dines all by himself at present; I merely looking on! (as he doesnt participate in my dislike to eating in presence of one's fellow creatures not similarly occupied.) Since my illness, that is to say pretty nearly ever since I returned from Scotland1 I have used my privilege of Invalid (and no doubt about it) to dine at the hour when nature and reason prompt me to dine, viz: 2 oclock; instead of at Mr C's fashionable hour of six. So my go at the fowl comes off today. They look famous ones; and as for the goose!—Heaven and Earth! what a goose!— Even Ann, who is so difficult to warm up to bare satisfaction point with anything of an eatable sort, stood amazed before that goose—“as in presence of The Infinite"! And when she had found her tongue broke forth with—“Lord! Ain't it fat Mam?”— Thank you very much dear Mary. Your Box reminds me of the time when you came to me at some dreadful Inn at Annan;2 where I happened to be, I dont remember why; and was doing I dont remember what; except that I was horridly sick and uncomfortable—and you came tripping in with a reticule basket and gave me little cakes and sweeties out of it!—and that comforted my mind, if not exactly good for my stomach!

Dear Mary how kind you used to be in these old times when we were thrown so much on one anothers company. That is the only feature of my existence at Craig o’ putta3 which I recall with pleasure—the rest of it was most dreary and uncongenial—

The meal is welcome—for I brought but little from Scotsbrig, not thinking to need more— When I dine in the middle of the day however, I can take my old supper of porridge; provided I feel up to the bother of making it myself. So I have my porridge while Mr C takes his more unsubstantial breadberry4 (I call it; Ann calls it, “Master's PAP!”)

We have beautiful weather again and I get out for a drive—in an omnibus— The Scotsbrig gig would be nicer; but anything is better than walking, when one feels like an eel in the matter of back-bone5— I go in an omnibus from the bottom of our street to the end of its line, and just come back again; thus realizing some—fourteen miles of shaking at the modest cost of one shilling. Mr C's horse gives him the highest satisfaction—he says it is “a quite remarkable combination of courage and sensibility"

The Secretary too would do well enough if he could only give over “sniffing thro his nose”— The Canaries are the happiest creatures in the house. The DOG next! kind regards to your Husband and Margaret6

affectionately yours /

Jane Carlyle