Here is his comment, written after her death: “In about a week all was swept and garnished, fairly habitable; and continued incessantly to get itself polished, civilised, and beautified to a degree that surprised one. I have elsewhere alluded to all that, and to my little Jeannie’s conduct of it; heroic, lovely, pathetic, mournfully beautiful as in the light of Eternity that little scene of time now looks to me. From birth upwards she had lived in opulence, and now became poor for me–so nobly poor. No such house for beautiful thrift, quiet, spontaneous, nay, as it were, unconscious minimum of money reconciled to human comfort and human dignity, have I anywhere looked upon where I have been.” Now, Maude, did that man appreciate his wife?
Why, Maude, we are getting quite a distinguished circle of acquaintances. Mr. Pepys last month–and now the Carlyles. Well, we could not spend a Saturday afternoon better, so if you will meet me to-morrow at Charing Cross, we shall have a cosy little lunch together at Gatti’s, and then go down to Chelsea.
Maude was a rigid economist, and so was Frank in his way, for with the grand self-respect of the middle classes the thought of debt was unendurable to them. A cab in preference to a ‘bus gave both of them a feeling of dissipation, but none the less they treated themselves to one on the occasion of this, their little holiday. It is a delightful thing to snuggle up in, is a hansom; but in order to be really trim and comfortable one has to put one’s arm round one’s companion’s waist. No one can observe it there, for the vehicle is built upon intelligent principles. The cabman, it is true, can overlook you through a hole in the roof. This cabman did so, and chuckled in his cravat. ‘If that cove’s wife could see him–huddup, then!’ said the cabman.
He was an intelligent cabman too, for having heard Frank say ‘Thomas Carlyle’s house’ after giving the address 5 Cheyne Row, he pulled up on the Thames Embankment. Right ahead of them was Chelsea Bridge, seen through a dim, soft London haze–monstrous, Cyclopean, giant arches springing over a vague river of molten metal, the whole daintily blurred, as though out of focus. The glamour of the London haze, what is there upon earth so beautiful? But it was not to admire it that the cabman had halted.