The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 24 July 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400724-TC-JAC-01; CL 12: 205-207


Chelsea, 24 july 1840—

My dear Brother,

After some searching, I have found your Agreement with Hamilton:1 there is nothing whatever specified in it about the terms, the times I mean, for paying the interest. Six per cent, for £1700 till the 6th of Feby; then five percent onwards after,—for one year at least, and you to give six months warning: this is the whole stipulation. You will have to write to W. Hamilton, I suppose, and inquire what the usual times of paying interest in such a case are. If I can do anything in it, direct me what.

Your Letter2 has come, yesterday, or the day before. I am glad you are at rest there by the sea-shore, and that if nothing is yet settled, nothing is missettled, and all is getting readier for settlement. You will see onto it by and by, see thro' it; and then choose what course will be best for you. It is not a cheerful service: but no labour whereby one earns money is apt to be that. Write to me as often as you can.

I am at my Fourth Lecture, not riding thro' England! Yet the latter had very nearly happened. All was ready for it, at least for a few days of riding, when Cavaignac returned from France, and I told him of the scheme. He instantly agreed to accompany me if I would wait two days longer than the day proposed,—if I would wait “till Thursday.” I agreed; went idle in the interim. But now the prospect of a gratuitous horse turns up for Cavaignac (I learn on the Tuesday) if I would wait a little longer still, how long not yet known! I wait; but return home, and instantly begin my Lecture. Cavaignac writes next day that he will be ready, after all, on friday. I answer that nothing can take me off till I have done with this Lecture now that I am in it! So here the matter stands. We were to have gone by Cambridge to Oliver Cromwell's birth-town Huntingdon; then round by Chalgravefield [sic]—where Hampden fell, &c &c. Whether we shall go at all now is doubtful. I am still bent for a little piece of equitation; I may not so soon have a horse again: I have always wanted to see a bit of England. In a week I shall have done with this Lecture, and be at scheming again.— I never give up the notion of a run to Annandale still; but all along I have fancied myself as well off here, or better, in grey cool weather, at worst damp, while in Scotland I suppose they have it often rainy. I shall regret greatly if I do not see my Mother this autumn. It is a kind of duty drawing me thitherward, as none does elsewhither. If I had heart enough, I would mount at once by myself, and ride all the way: but, alas, the heart of a bilious nervous mortal is of small compass for mere enterprises of enjoyment! I must have my Luther and Knox done first, at any rate.

My pen goes briskly, some days; at other times it is very dour indeed. It is the evening, near sunset, now when I write: this morning I awoke at four o'clock. Generally, however, I am better than you used to see me. One advantage of the horse is that it takes me at any rate into the country almost every day. I sometimes do not go into the Town at all for almost a week. I can of course call on nobody; it is a lonely life; but I find solitude far fruitfullest for me. Even today I do not feel nearly so wretched as I used often to do here in summer. The weather indeed has suited me better,—too well, for the world's sake: besides I have an employment this year, tho' a poor one. I hope to write another Book by and by!

Macaulay's Article is not so bad; on the whole rather interesting to me, and flattering rather than otherwise. “See,” I said to Jane, “we have produced an effect even on Whiggery; awakened an appetite under the ribs of Death!”—“Awakened an indigestion!” she answered. That really is it. Fraser delights greatly in the review; calculates that it will quicken him perceptibly! It seems there is a Quarterly onslaught coming too: so James has heard in all diplomatic privacy.3 All glory then is exhausted; we can as our Mother used to say, “dicht [clean] our neb [bills], and flee [fly] up,”—to roost for the night.

One thing struck me much in this Macaulay, his theory of liberal government. He considers Reform to mean a judicious combining of those that have any money to keep down those that have none. “Hunger” among the great mass is irremediable, he says. That the pigs be taught to die without squealing: there is the sole improvement possible according to him. Did Whiggery ever express itself in a more damnable manner. He and I get our controversy rendered altogether precise in this way. His theory of Dumouriez' Campaign is also altogether amazing from a man of any judgement: whiggish to the backbone. And lastly Robespierre's Etre Suprême being a Religion; of the same sort as that of Cromwell! O Babington what is a Cant then? Didst thou ever see a Cant in this world?4 No: a man in jaundice never sees the colour yellow.— At bottom this Macaulay is but a poor creature, with his Dictionary literature and erudition, his saloon arrogance; he has no vision in him: he will neither see nor do any great thing, but be a poor Holland-House Unbeliever, with spectacles instead of eyes, to the end of him, I think!

—And now we will wait for the Quarterly onslaught; and hope for a decided increase of sale. That is the only benefit of being reviewed.

Did you see in the Newspaper that poor Webbe5 was dead! It happend some weeks ago. Poor fellow, I saw him last in March: he had taken cold, was confined to his room, and looked very ill and wretched; but was in no apprehension, was going “to Croydon; to have a little garden and cottage there, and his father and mother to be with him!” I never saw him again; nor, tho' I wrote one or two little notes, about the Library chiefly, did I ever hear of him again, till I heard this. Poor Webbe!

No word out of Annandale. I wrote yesternight to Alick; I had the Newspaper as usual, which I have forwarded to you today.

The Augsburg Editor never did come back; I have heard no whisper of him since; but fancy he must have gone home, as he purposed, in a few days. Vogelsang I by chance had asked about.6 The Editor gutturalized perceptibly in answering; seemed to indicate that V. was living in an honest but not a flourishing way, by, if I remember, “teaching English” for one thing. When questioned cautiously about the beer, he gutturalized still more! I inferred that it stood so-so with poor Vogelsang.

The American young lady7 you speak of (it can be no other) has been here: “a little diseased rosebud,” of whom we could make almost nothing. We studied to be as kind to her as possible: she professed to fall in love with Jane; but I think rather disliked me;—and then went on her way again. “Sweet sensibility, O la!”— I find the Bostonian philosophers sunk in a to me very unproductive element of speculation.

Light is quite gone, my dear Jack: I too must go. You are looking over the everlasting Sea, I suppose; I over red tiles and chimney pots. My stupidity is inexcusable,—if I had not awakened at four—

Your ever affectionate /

T. Carlyle