The Collected Letters, Volume 11


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 26 May 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390526-TC-JAC-01; CL 11: 108-114


Chelsea, 26th May, 1839—

My dear Brother,— Two Letters have arrived from you by way of Marseilles, the first some three weeks ago, the last on friday; I take my earliest morning for writing in reply. Your first Letter had a draft for thirty pounds, which I presented at Hoare's Bank,1 and got the money for without difficulty: three new ten pound notes, lying now in my drawer, waiting your farther instructions. You have been doubtless in a sad bustle and distress; we had heard, thro' the Newspapers, of the poor child's death,2 some two days before your Letter came; a still earlier paragraph gave account of “yellow fevers” &c in your household; but we understood that to be nothing but what you had mentioned to us, in milder and truer terms, in your last bulletin. The poor child must have given a sore affliction to you all; yet your sorrow, which can but be professional and of general humanity, is nothing at all to that of the parents. Their “thanks” in these mournful circumstances must have been very affecting. You must put up with your share in this infliction, whatever it may be; you have been luckier with patients than most Doctors are; and Death is a power that defies all skill. But surely you have not wanted work, this voyage, whatever you have wanted! Nor do I think whatever uneasiness and toil it cost, that such is the worst arrangement for you. A man, in all circumstances, must desire to see himself doing something, assisting in something; a Physician, where no sickness exists, is like a taper burning in day-light.— But on the whole, dear Jack, I wish you were fairly away out of all these Italian confusions; it seems to my imagination as if, were you once over the Alps, it would be all well with you,—an imagination merely! One would at least know where to address you, how to get answer from you. I have punctually without loss of time obeyed all your directions as to Newspapers and notices, tho' with a misgiving always that perhaps you might never profit thereby, but only some oorie [dismal] yellow Postmaster beyond seas light his pipe with the “two strokes”; however, I sent them with what hope I could. A Courier, directly on reading your last Letter, went to Naples; two Examiners, with Lecture Reports, went to Rome, and a third will go to Florence, to conclude the matter, along with this; to Florence I already sent a Sun Newspaper, which had incidentally something of me at the very time I was bound to send at any rate: in short, if you can recollect what orders you gave me, you may calculate that I was faithful to execute them all; that if disappointment arise, it is the Postmaster's blame not mine. And now with one other Letter from you, we hope the confusion will all be knit up again, and no farther vague shooting at the wind be needed for some time. The lost Roman Letter must be about a year old now; worth=o.3

Here in Britain all goes well enough. My Mother sent me a considerable letter since you heard: her health is good; Isabella improves fast, and seems now to be going about again; Jamie, tho' his crop was bad, has helped himself thro' with livestock which turned out singularly well; Jenny of Manchester, I since hear, has just got over to Scotsbrig with her child to enjoy some summer weather there: in a word, there was nothing at all wrong among them. Alick wrote a Postscript to my Mother's sheet; from which it appeared pretty decidedly that he was prospering in that business of his; making, I think, something not far from £100 a year, and standing, they all said, steadily to it. Harkness the Minister was gone to America or somewhither, and now there was prospect of a Preacher in the Meetinghouse; to which, our Mother, with great joy, had returned. Alick wrote a second time, briefly, only three or four days ago— Ah, Jack, I see now what the thirty pounds meant! He said you had instructed him before you went last year, to purchase a horse and gig for me, to render my stay in the country profitabler; that he had actually bought a horse (he did not say for what, but it was six years old, like Harry, only bigger and of a “dunnish” colour); that he thought he could get a gig, and wished to know what, when, and how, he should do in it! My dear Brother, what can I say to you for all this? It seems to me an improvident kindness, too lavish, too—but it is very kind. I shall think of it; I should but spoil it by speaking of it. If I have had my sufferings in this world, I ought to feel that I have had my consolations too.— To Alick I wrote instantly according to request, but knew not well what to answer. I said I had as good as determined to have a horse to ride on, be or go where I might; but then my coming to Scotland, still more my continuance there this summer, was extremely undecided as yet; wherefore as to the gig—? I thought on the whole if he found a suitable article clearly cheap he might purchase it, and “consign it rigorously to our Mother,” for whom in her old days it might be useful, whom you would like well to think of furnishing in that way. If nothing at once suitable and cheap offered itself, however, he was to wait till he heard. It seemed likeliest of all that the whole household of us, Ellen too, would come up to Templand for a while in summer, but Mrs Welsh was still in Liverpool (and is; not in good case with cold &c, nor has her Brother been quite well); so that nothing could be fixed hitherto. This was what I answered to Alick, in a very vague manner: what he will spell out of it I do not know.— In fact, the weather is still cold here; not till it grow hot need we fly to the fields; after that we can soon pack up and fly. Jane seems to think Templand the eligiblest of all, to which also her Mother was very pressing: in that case, gig and horse will be welcomest of all.

But I am in the last page, and absolutely must turn to London— Sorrow on it! here is “Mr Creek, Sir,” come to take me out to walk, and it is only noon, & blue northwind! I suppose I must go. Adieu.

p.m. same day (Sunday).— Craik and I went as far as the extremity of the Regent's Park;4 I have dined and had tea, and now set to work again.— The Lectures as you infer are over; with tolerable éclat, with a clear gain of very nearly £200, which latter is the only altogether comfortable part of the business. My audience was visibly more numerous than ever, and of more distinguished people; my sorrow in delivery was less, my remorse after delivery was much greater. I gave one very bad lecture (as I thought), the last but one; it was on the French Revn, I was dispirited, in miserable health, my audience mainly Tory could not be expected to sympathize with me; in short, I felt, after it was over, “like a man that had been robbing hen roosts.” In which circumstances, I, the day before my finale,—hired a swift horse, galloped out to Harrow and back again, went in [a] kind of rage to the room next day, and made, on Sansculottism itself, very considerably the nearest appro[ach] to a good Lecture they ever got of me; carried the whole business glowing after me, and ended half an hour beyond my time with universal decisive applause, sufficient for the occasion. One of my great wants, as I now see, was a swift horse from the very beginning! I had hopes of one, but they misgave; I have got just four rides in all; the first was a failure, my horse refusing to act (in my whipless state; but I took a whip always afterwards), the other three were not failures, but swift gallops to Richmond, to Harrow (as I said), and finally last week to Hampstead, Highgate, Hornsey, in company with Cavaignac who enjoyed it much. They are too dear (some 12/ each) to be repeated now; but I do mean to have a horse when I come back hither next season; I cannot live in any health without one. Another thing I sometimes think of, and that is going out to America this autumn to learn the business of extempore speaking, for I find I have it still to learn! Seriously unless I can take to the writing of some Book, I think I ought. I am well rested now; I feel disposition again to work. We shall see what the summer says to it. Meantime guess what immediate project I am on: that of writing an Article on the Working Classes for the Quarterly! It is verily so: I offered to do the thing for Mill about a year ago; he durst not; I felt a kind of call and monition of duty to do it, wrote to Lockhart accordingly, was altogether invitingly answered, had a long interview with the man yesterday, found him a person of sense, goodbreeding, even kindness, and great consentaneity of opinion with myself on this matter, am to get books from him tomorrow; and so shall forthwith set about telling Conservatives a thing or two about the claims condition, rights and mights of the working orders of men!5 Jane is very glad; partly from a kind of spite at the Blödsinnigkeit [idiocy] of Mill and his wooden set. The Radicals, as they stand now, are dead and gone, I apprehend—owing to their heartless stupidity on that very matter. As to poor Mill I cannot be angry with him; but I feel that the Quarterly will suit better for this Article; and indeed that the Mill-Robertson affair will hardly suit me for any article at all: let it live, or as rathe[r] seems likely, die, without me. Robertson is in Scotland, Mill is not to be home till july; I have less and less trade with them, or sympathy with them, in regard to that business of theirs.6 But as to my Working Classes, it is not to be out till Autumn that being the time for “things requiring thought,” as Lockhart says; I shall have much to read and inquire, but in fine I shall get the thing off my hands, and have my heart clear about it. Next time you hear, I shall probably be in the middle of it.

Alas, how my paper wanes! I could fill three sheets for you. Write the first hour you can; nay you will have written, and commanded me to answer before this arrive. John Sterling is home, three weeks ago; flying “like sheet-lightning” to and fro, is to be here tomorrow with his whole household from Hastings for a fortnight, then to Clifton near Bristol, where he has taken a house, and means to &c &c. Friendly as ever, restless as ever. Anthony has been heard of from Paris, is expected soon. I dined with Wordsworth at the Marshalls's; he asked kindly for you; the same wholesome pacific not altogether watery old man. Crabbe Robinson, one of my Lecture-auditors, inquired very punctually for you.7 Sydney Smith was one of my hearers, Lady Byron,8 Bishop of Norwich,9—Matthew Allen!10 W. Fraser, I grieve to understand, is laid for 3 months in Marshalsea Prison, for some distracted riot of horsewhipping or duel he entered into, between two Irish-Spanish Halfpays, he being there merely as legal counsel for one of them!11 An imprudent man, if there ever was one. Sir James Clark is understood to have suffered a good deal from his late Palace adventure. With great dignity he holds his peace, however; those that know him will know what to think, and the noise will pass.12 He asked me to dinner this day; I carried up a note of refusal with Creek (having twice as many dinners as I can eat at present), a thing I regretted to do. He seems to me a good & honest character. “Garnier devient fou [is becoming mad],” Cavaignac says! What a story;—for which however I fear there is too much basis: we have not seen Garnier for a year or more.13 Buller had hopes of a place in these extraordinary changes of Ministry; but they seem to have vanished again.14 Conservatives are bitter agt little Victory, Whigs dubious, people indifft. It is not seen how Melbournedom can hold together long, nor what now is to follow it.15— I dined at d'Orsaydom, or Blessingtondom one day, with W. Savage Landor,16 who called here since, and talked us all almost into syncope. D'Orsay is decidedly a clever and no bad fellow; he drew a fine portrait of me in the drawing-room, really very like.17 Countess B. I did not fall in love with; ah no, tho' she is smart, good humoured, blandishing,—an elderly “wild Irish girl”!18 They have a fine library; Jane says I value my acquaintance by their libraries, and say or shd say, “Such a one is a valuable man, a man of 3000 volumes.” The Spedding Library sleeps, or is dead.19 Craik has unearthed some vestige of a Library already extant;20 we shall see about it; meanwhile I get Books from Cambridge. Tomorrow morning I breakfast with Mylnes (who has always lions); I leave the other margins till then. Adieu, dear Brother. Yours altogether

T. Carlyle

Monday, 1 o'clock.— We have bright southwest weather, wherein Jane greatly rejoices. Milnes's breakfast, usually such a fire work of wit, amounted to little this Morning: Fonblanque, H. Nelson Coleridge, a young Lord Littleton21 &c; I have gained a sore-head by it, and got home.

Mrs Strachey wrote me a grand letter of eulogy about the F. R. book; I answered yesterday (after writing this) and got M. to frank it today. I have a frank too for Jean at Dumfrs in which your Letter is to go. The Examiner is not procurable today; I will get Leigh Hunt's copy; you may expect it by the Friday post, at latest.

Alick tells me he did not make much of the £100 and meal speculation this year; indeed, I think, did not use the cash at all; but only bought two or three lots without gain, and then drew back: it was a year in which no man in that line did anything profitable. He at least as I gather did not lose.

We go on printing the Revn, nearly thro' the first volume. Emerson writes me the Americans want 500, which is just the number I am getting ready for them. The two first voll. of Miscellanies are on the sea hitherward; ought to be here in 2 or 3 weeks. The last 2 voll. were to follow in a month. Fraser will not begin selling till they are all here. Their American first 2 voll. are all done now (with my 260) except 100, and they talk of printing again. They have done those of the 2nd 2. When am I to send that Miscellany Parcel by Montagu House; or how long will it avail us? I think I shall send off the first 2 whenever they come. Before the 2nd, we shall hear.

Bunsen is still here, a very torment of talk. I saw him at Pusey's22 on Saturday (in answer to his call here); nichts zu bedeuten [of no importance]. Adieu dear Boy. I have Jean's Letter to write; then to dine with one Booth,23—ah me! But it is the last of my dinners for the present. I long to hear what your next Letter will say. Good be ever with you!— T.C.

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