The Collected Letters, Volume 10


TC TO WILLIAM GRAHAM ; 10 May 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18380510-TC-WG-01; CL 10: 73-75


5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London, / 10th May, 1838.

My dear Sir,

Will you accept, at a late date, this short Note, which, should have been a long letter written many months ago. Better late than never, the Proverb says! I have been situated so, principally in regard to nerves and spirits too sorely acted on by the fret of this mad Babylon, that I am well sure, if you knew half of it, you would forgive me. Pray know always that I can never forget Burnswark and you; that if I do not write it is because silence seems better than any speech my humour would allow; that I am weary, sick; that I am anything but unregardful of you. Woe betide me if I were! Do not many images, of thick Tartan cloaks, cigar-boxes, coffee biggens and effects, with the image of a right friendly face turned towards me in honest helpfulness when there were but few turned that way,—rise up in continual remembrance? Time robs us of many things; but these are of the things that I retain in perpetual fee-simple independent of time.

I have had a restless dreaming winter; mixture of dreaming, and starting up with loud knocks at “the wooden guardian of one's privacy!”1 The cry of my whole soul is, was, and will be, that I could be well let alone. But no, that is not so easy. I think it will be months and years yet, before I get back to the old level where peace and rest is. One comfort is that I am getting quieter by nature; namely older. Allan Cunningham says, A man can have no right health in London till he once be five-and-forty.2 O for five-and-forty, Tam!

The good Yankee friends have reprinted the F. Revn in a very handsome manner; a copy of their edition is here. They are also printing Review things of mine.3 Nay they talk of sending me some scantling of dollars from both these sources; for it is friends not book-traders that have taken charge of it. Long life to Yankee-land! We shall see.— Here at home, I have had a curious fortune too. As much applause, or rather considerably more, from the best kind of judges as was good for me; and from the Bookseller hitherto not a copper farthing. Nay the scamp has found out a set of Teufelsdröckhs (you know the pamphlet, worth about six-pence) which lay rotting in his cellar as “d———d stuff”;4 and sells them currently for five shillings each!5 That trade seems altogether destined to revert very soon to the Devil, whose it is. I have checked the five-shillings “Teufel” however, and will do another thing or two in regard to that matter. Hang it! One right Annandale Collie [scolding] is all the reply one can give to that kind of thing.

For the present I am again at my old trade of basket making, or lecturing. It goes along very tolerably; tho' at a frightful expense to my nerves. By the blessing of Heaven, on this day month, I shall have done with it, and then! I have always looked forward to the then!; and yet I know not what I shall do then. John is coming, I hope; and then we shall see. He was to quit Rome about this time or earlier, to be here in June. He has often sent remembrances to you, which I as regularly transmitted to Ecclefechan or Scotsbrig; but whether they always got round the Hill I know not so well.

My wife is not at all in strong health; nor am I, as you gather. I wish many a time I were in Creta or Langtether!6 Let us hope that somehow or other I may see you this summer, were it on greener ground. I will write no more in such haste. I will wish you a prosperous seedtime and all good; I will beg to be remembered kindly to the two ladies, good friends of mine.7 I will hope for your excuse of a scrawl like this; for your tolerance, your affection and good wishes; and subscribe myself (as I can truly)

Yours always,

T. Carlyle.