Thursday, December 20, 2007

Glimpse of a Carlyle Christmas (!)

Jane Welsh Carlyle To Mrs. Austin,

The Gill, Annan.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea:
Christmas Day, 1857.

My dear Mary,

I understood that your brother would write himself to-day, to announce the safe arrival of your box, the contents of which were exhibited to him in succession last night. When it came to the goose, carried in on my arms like a strange new kind of baby (with that belly-band about it!), he burst into such a laugh! 'That fellow I think has got his quietus' (he said). But now he has just come down, and is off for his ride, and when I asked 'had he written to Mary?' he exclaimed wildly that he had 'fifteen hours of the most awful work of correcting proofs ahead of him, that I who had nothing to do should have written to Mary!' With all the pleasure in life! had I known in time, instead of within just half an hour of post-time - from which is to be subtracted ten minutes for putting on my things and running to the post-office! But better a line than no letter at all till to-morrow - you thinking the while that those blessed birds may be coming to harm from being too long on the road!

No, my dear! one 'Chucka' is boiling at this moment for the master's dinner (I dine on anything at two o'clock; not being up to waiting for Mr. C.'s six or seven o'clock dinners). But I had one of the eggs to my breakfast, and it was the very best and biggest I ever ate in my life! There were only two broken, and not wasted even these; I lifted up the yolks, which lay quite round and whole, in a spoon (for puddings).

I wish I had begun in time, for I had plenty of things to say; but I must keep for this time to mere acknowledgment of your present - another day I may tell you the rest.

Yours ever affectionately,

-from Letters and Memories of Jane Welsh Carlyle / edited by James Anthony Froude (London: Longman's Green and Co., 1883) p. 342-43.

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