The Collected Letters, Volume 10


TC TO JOHN STERLING ; 7 July 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18380707-TC-JOST-01; CL 10: 115-116


Chelsea, Saturday [7 July 1838]—

Dear Sterling,

I answer you as one in doleful dumps; having had a fit of sleeplessness these three nights, owing mainly I suppose to the hot weather. I think of flying out of this brick-furnace soon, to Scotland, to France, or somewhither[.] My right hand also continues lame.— Is it not strange in these circumstances that the world should wag on as usual; the sun move at his old rate along the Zodiac; you and Spedding1 hold plannings of symposia &c &c? To me, had I not often witnessed the like already, it were next to unaccountable.

Alas, my friend, I do not think I can come on Monday. I am to dine on that day, if at all able, with Allan Cunningham and a frightful Scotch etcetera of Coronation-Editors;2 preparatory to which a breakfast with wits, four miles off?— Ah, me!

You are very good to think me useful or ornamental in such a union; and surely if there is anything worth wishing for in this world, it is the meeting with friends, kind, honest-hearted and wise, who will let one live in friendliness among them.3 But there is one circumstance which for me, I fear, is like to be fatal: I cannot dine. Literally every dinner, as they order these things here, is martyrdom to me; which I never submit to except under the impossibility of seeing see-worthy people otherwise. Could you indeed arrange a meeting without that brutal appendage! But I suppose no man can in England. With it, you may safely calculate on me as a guest, so often as my nerves will in any sort permit; but as a regular dining member, the rigorous gods have said, NO!4 The last Tavern-dinner I saw still lives in my remembrance, a “Golgotha without the sacredness.”5 Pity me, and leave me alone in my nook.

I hope to see you here however on Monday. The Printer lingers sadly with the last leaves of Teufelsdröckh. In the course of next week I shall be ready to fly, if need continue.

My wife grows better, not worse; and salutes you well.

Ever truly Yours /

T. Carlyle.