Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

V
AT THE GRANGE, MACAULAY, &c (1851-52)

MEANWHILE Mrs. Carlyle at the Grange had unusual news to send to a cousin.1 She and Lady Ashburton were dressing dolls for a Christmas tree, and there was a tacit strike of the servants.--'The very footmen won't carry the dolls. . . . When told to bring one or desire the maid to bring one they simply disappear and no doll comes!--I remarked on this with some impatience yesterday, and Lady A. answered,--"Perfectly true, Mrs. Carlyle --they won't bring the doll!--I know it as well as you do-- but what would you have me do?--turn all the servants, men and women, out of the house on account of these dolls? for it would come to that--if I made a point of their doing anything in the doll line! Perhaps it would be the right thing to do--but then what should we do next week without servants when all the company come?" Such is the slavery the grandest people live under to what they call their "inferiors."'

It seems to have been on the Thursday following, 11.12.51, that Mrs. Carlyle wrote a bright letter to Kate Sterling, a daughter of John and a granddaughter of old Sterling, the "thunderer" of the Times, whose phrase is quoted. The "President" mentioned is Napoleon the Little, and the "row" was his "coup d'état" at Paris, on 2.12.51.--

'THE GRANGE,

'Thursday.

DEAREST K.,--

'I don't know what I was "born with in my mouth" but it could not have been "a silver spoon" anyhow,--and if anyone ever presented me with a charm I must have left it, I think, beside my teacup. For certainly there is not "in all England" (your grandfather's phrase) a poor woman more liable than myself to having "the pigs" run thro'

____________________
1
J. W. Carlyle: Letters to her Family, by L. Huxley, pp. 354-7.

-392-

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