July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO JAMES AUSTIN ; 30 September 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580930-JWC-JAU-01; CL 34: 205-207


5 Cheyne Row Chelsea / Thursday [30 September 1858]

My dear Jamie

I never saw such a thing in all my Life! I plunged into a carriage full of illbred disobliging English tourists—they would make no room for me, with my bee-hive and all my little things! I had to force a way for myself, and my belongings, and when I had got my hands freed, and turned round to shake hands with you, before I sat down, behold the door was shut, and you had disappeared and we were in motion! I could have cried for vexation, and could not get it out of my head all the road to London, that I had come off without a word of thanks for your kindness to me, or a word of leave taking! And I felt such a destation1 of these broad hatted women in the carriage with me, whose disobligingness has been the cause of my flurry.

I went to the guard at Carlisle, and told him I would not go on with these people, and should like to have a carriage all to myself— He seemed quite taken with my assurance, and asked if I could put up with one Lady beside me? I said “Yes—if she were not troublesome.” He took me to a stout gentleman (the clerk at Carlisle I suppose) and said “this Lady wishes to have a carriage all to herself!! but she would allow one Lady with her.” The gentleman said “it was a very natural wish, but he did not see how it could be gratified however, if I would keep quiet beside him, he would see what was possible”! and the result was, I got a carriage with only one Lady in it!!—Nothing like a modest impudence for getting one on in this world!— So far from objecting to the quantity of my luggage, they asked “was that all?2 had I nothing more?” and they put up my things quite softly, whereas everybody else's, I noticed, were pitched up like quoits!— The result is, that not so much as one egg was broken!—and much satisfaction was difused over the house by the unpacking of that improvised hamper! When I found how much at ease I was in my carriage I regretted not bringing away that kitten! It might have played about! But wasn't I thankful, prudence had prevailed, when I found myself already the enviable mistress of a kitten exactly the same size, but black as soot!! Charlotte had taken the opportunity of my absence to discover “there were mice in the house” and bring home a new pet to herself! The dog and it are dear friends for a wonder. I was delighted to see it this morning trying, to ride on the dog's back!

Mr C was waiting for me, and had firmly believed for the last quarter of an hour that it was no use, as I must certainly have been smashed to pieces! We were in fact an hour later than the regular time—in consequence of a Bridge burnt down over the Trent3—which occasioned a great round about.

Besides the Train did not behave itself at all like an Express—stopping at a great many places and for long whiles.

My house was all right—indeed I never found it as thoroughly cleaned—or the general aspect of things as satisfactory— She is a perfect jewel that young girl— Besides all her natural work she had crotchetd, out of her own head,4 a large cover for, the drawingroom sofa!

You will be glad to hear that a good situation is found at last for James Aitken.5

Carlyle seemed very grateful6 to you for the care you took of me— I told him about that “close carriage” before we had been five minutes in the cab together—

Kindest love to Mary and remember me to all those girls7 visible and invisible “who are world-like” their Mother says and have their wits”—

I will write to Mary before long / Yours most kindly / Jane Carlyle