The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 16 December 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401216-TC-JAC-01; CL 12: 365-367


Chelsea, Wednesday Night [16 December 1840]

Dear Brother,

We had your Letter yesterday morning; in the evening there came the inclosed beautiful little Note from my Mother.1 I like her little Notes very much; cramp, stiff, yet rational, affectionate, even a kind of grace in them! In their poor obstruction they are very eloquent to me.

Jane, I think, sent off some acknowledgement for her sumptuous gift; of which, as reasonable, she is very proud. She has never drawn the cash yet, being held close prisoner by the frost; tho' I suppose this snow now may liberate her; and then there will be a rare bout of shopping!

We had the Wilsons and the Wedgwoods here last night: “very agreeable” as it is called; indeed they were friendly pleasant and pleased people: but—I awoke at five! The night before, I had gone to Hy Taylor's, expecting no party; nor indeed finding any of much moment; nevertheless, tho' it was a walk of four miles up and then down, in dry pleasant frost, it shattered me all to rags. I am a poor weak creature; I really do think, of the irritablest constitution that had ever Life in it, or nearly so!

Yesterday at the crossing in Knightsbridge leading past Wilton Crescent, I saw to my surprise a man standing, with one leg slightly advanced and resting on its toe: you guess who it was—Kenny!2 We saluted cordially; whereupon he got under way again. He lives in this region somewhere, he said: he had an old Petersham coat upon him; looked rather wizzened, and scraggy.

Today there came a large unlicked American;3 I sent him on his way. I was packing my Cambridge Books; I went on with the operation. Hat Nichts zu bedeuten [It's of no importance].

I am just returned from carrying up said Books (to the Golden Cross),4 and then attending the Library Committee. It is a business that never profits me; that I wish to be done with. We are choosing a Librarian. Cochrane once of the Foreign Q. Review is not unlikely to be the man. He once chosen, I design to be off. Poor old fellow, he must be turned of fifty now; still hanging in the waters: he is willing to come at a salary of £150, with prospect of augmentation if the Library succeed. The gomerils [fools], this night, had very nearly decided to take some mere Clerk at a salary of £100. The whole is to be settled at Candlemas. I really desire much to be out of it.

You are continuing with your Patient, for some time at least; I find it to be altogether reasonable. You seem to me to have what is as good as a very peculiar privilege there: that of staying as long as you like, and yet going almost as soon as you like! I am glad to consider your man as settled, and giving you some composure for the present. “Do the duty that is at hand!”5 says Goethe: Kannst auch auf ein Morgen hoffen [You can also hope for a tomorrow]6 &c

My reading toils along thro' many interruptions. I am very much distressed about my Book occasionally. Heaven only knows what will come of it, whether ever anything.7 Voyons [Let us see].

I wrote a long Letter to the poor Dud Cochrane (who seems to be some kind of Editor at Hertford), purely out of charity, since my six-o'clock dinner;—pure humanity as I say; for which your Letter must now be all the shorter. I am wae to think of the old man, so often baffled and tumbled; rallying yet once again “to turn his peculiar acquirements to some use,” as he says!

I met A. Cunningham in the street one day; he seemed brisk, and was walking fast, “to drive off the cold.” I have some thoughts of walking thither tonight; to see if I can purchase a sleep!— Yesterday I fell in with Lockhart in the Grosvenor Square region: he turned with me down to Piccadilly. An effectual kind of man, “and rational in speech as of the Greeks are few!”8 I like well to talk a while with him. Unhappily he is growing very decidedly deaf, I fear.

Enough, dear John; it is time I took my smoke, and went out if at all tonight.

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle