The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 6 February 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400206-TC-JAC-01; CL 12: 31-38


Chelsea, 6 Feby, 1840—

My dear Brother,

Your two Letters1 have arrived. I was right glad of both; of the first especially; for the wind grew so loud that Saturday-night that I lay listening to it fancying you had either not gone, or must be tumbling about in great discomfort,—who knew if not in danger? It appears you did go, and were safe asleep all the while. Heaven be thanked things went so well!

For the rest, I wish I had stood by my first purpose of writing to you on Wednesday (yesterday). I was in somewhat better ease yesterday; last night however I did not sleep &c, and today am somewhat of the dolefullest. But your first Letter said “write on Thursday”;—perhaps meaning “write for Thursday?” I can do no other now.

Of Saturday and all the thoughts I had it is needless to speak at all. It was one of the sorrowfullest days I ever spent; moping, regretting, secretly deploring:—but it was spent in silence, thank God; and I need not recall it into speech now. Your room here seemed to me like a thing I had cruelly inherited; all the traces of you occurring at every place and hour were mortuary: Poor Doil could get no shelter here; and now he is gone, and needs none from thee! It was, as you say, an experiment that needed to be made: we will try the next under a change of conditions, and hope it may be more successful.

I sit here all the forenoons; the visible or even invisible work I have done is hitherto very small. But it is good in all ways for me to be left alone. “Ay maistly works in a place by himsel'!”2 I shall have something more to do by and by; I ought to keep myself in equilibrium till the word come to me. One of the most palpably wise things executable by me, were the getting back of my horse; which accordingly I resolve to do before long,—the instant the roads and weather dry. I still merely read Norse Books,3 correct Proofs, and the like.

An Italian Courier came here the other day; endeavouring to speak unintelligible English: I set him upon French; and it then seemed he wanted little or indeed nothing with you except to know “whether the Duke were going abroad” &c! I told him, all that was decided a month ago in the negative; I gave him your new Address, and he went away with many bows. —Fraser whom I saw one day informed me that a Captn Ricketts4 from the Isle of Wight had sent to ask him if you were in town. F. answered in writing that you were gone to the North of Ireland and likely to stay some time; but that your Brother's address was so and so, by whom any kind of communication was open. I have yet heard no tidings farther of this Captain Ricketts. No Parcels Company people called for the Box; it was sent off so soon as I could understand it (that is yesterday) by the Carrier.— I wrote to Milnes about your two orders for the House of Commons; he had chanced to ask me to breakfast for friday that very morning. I enclosed my card and address bearing these words “With Dr Carlyle's compliments”; requested Milnes to forward the orders with that to your German;5 and today Milnes writes me that they are with him. I will not go to breakfast tomorrow; I am not able: perhaps I may walk in upon them after breakfast and see who they are.

Fraser did not settle with me; does not seem ready to settle with me; pleaded hurry, trouble, immense difficulty of getting ready accounts &c: I am in such a wretched state of bodily irritability, that I had as soon it lay over for a few days. Mary's £30 I suppose, however, will be to be sent; I will make Fraser table when that becomes necessary: I wrote yesterday to Jamie to ascertain what sum specially it would be proper to send as the final one, and when was the time for sending it.

My Lectures come into my head occasionally; I have no appetite whatever that way; but must perform, I suppose: probably the black horse will be one of the indispensablest performers in that! Such a life of wretched insomnolent dyspepsia as I have long led is enough by and by to make one sick of life altogether. Silence!

I have seen nobody of moment since you went. Craik was here last night; to whom enter Cavaignac: ineffectual superficial clatter was the necessity; infinitely inferior to my Heims Kringla, which it drove me away from. Mazzini has sent me some wonderful books translated from the French of one Miçkiewicz, a decidedly remarkable man. Fire, slaughter, Polish patriotism, Jesus Christ and Robespierre: what a time this of ours is! This Miçkiewicz is a fierce Royalist withal, a fierce Royalist and fierce Catholic;—teaches Latin now at Lausanne.6 I also saw Mazzini yesterday; heartily sorry for him: he is to come and dine here on Saturday.7 I think he looks more and more unhealthy.

Tonight, as we learn suddenly, Hunt's Play is to come out; and we have (alas for it!) to go and assist.8 I augur little certain except a headache: you shall hear how it turns.— No Stimabile has turned up since you went, that I remember. Fraser has sold 850 Chartisms,—the poor creature was in spirits that day I saw him. The Wilsons have at last given sign of themselves: buried in the country till two days ago, they propose dinner on Tuesday! I felt obliged to say yes; but have serious thoughts of pleading off after all.— Are not here news enough, were they of any value!

Today you are dining at Pelliper [sic]! Endeavour to give me some visual image of your position every way: the kind of place it is physically, topographically; the kind of rooms you have, of work you have and are like to have: all this by degrees.9 I will be as discreet as you like. You will write often; once a week at least: or why not once a day? This Penny-post will by and by introduce a quite new style of letter-writing. Finally my dear Brother, farewell for this day; and may good meet you in it and not evil. In the inmost part of my sick heart, I am always

Your faithful and affectionate /

T. Carlyle

I will send you the Courier; and I suppose the Examiner too? You will forward them to Scotsbrig straightway. Or would you like the Courier direct from Dumfries, and then hither? I care nothing about it.