August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 27 September 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420927-TC-JAC-01; CL 15: 104-106


Chelsea, 27 Septr, 1842—

Dear Brother,

Your two Letters from Beaumaris came on the same day; the first of them had been too late for the evening mail: they were welcome, at what time soever.

We have not the smallest approach to news here: our weather for the last week has been a perfect puddle of rain, east-wind, mud and imprisonment; even Darwin cannot get down to us, were news never so rife! I am struggling hard to get my pen in motion again; I sit obstinately at my desk, and do darken paper daily, but Heaven only can discern whitherward as yet. I feel on the whole that there is or can be no help for me at all, except by working and struggling of my own, now and here:—wherefore pray that I may have the sense and courage to continue struggling. Light rises by degrees, if one go resolutely forward seeking light.

A Note came yesterday from Jean, which I inclose. We have decided that the Picture is to be sent straightway without framing. I trust you will find it hung up here, all right, when you come back.

Redwood the Welsh Attorney writes me, touching some Books &c he had previously sent. I have cause to like that man. A short Note has also come from Sterling: he is in bad spirits, himself has been sick and his Wife; they are now recovering. I have yet made no kind of answer to Whiting of the Atlas. Perhaps he will let me off, will leave it lying there. At worst it will but be to consent! On the whole, nothing will come of his Prize Essay, except a mountain of crudities,—and perhaps an additional degree of attention, for a little while, bestowed by the Public at large on that great question, when they hear there is a prize for it. A result which we must consider in any case to be none of the largest!

On Sunday, putting on bad clothes and an old hat, I set forth into a 12 miles walk on the Surrey side: by Garrat (a wretched hamlet, where I did not see any “Mayor”), by Tooting, Clapham1 &c; my recompense was not immediate,—a night of very bad sleep: but I do feel rather healthier ever since, and mean to repeat the process on occasion That same evening, just before tea, Wm Cunningham2 came in: an embarrassed painful kind of man, but with much worth; who will surely gather clearness, better confidence, as he goes on. He went away after two hours, amid rain-deluges; having had a cab in waiting all the while! Stimabiledom continues under the horizon, at Dublin we suppose. Lhotsky the Pole (did you never hear of him?) came to me the other morning with a most priceless Tractate on “Death by Starvation in the Metropolis”:3 he is one of poor Mazzini's ragged regt, whom ever since I heard last winter that he was utterly without bread or clothes, I have never been able to get rid of again,—having given him some old clothes &c on that sad occasion. This time he was on the point of being off for Paris; thence, if he failed, to America: to quit England at least forevermore. Unfortunately however he could not raise the whole passage-money! No such dignified, really noble-minded beggar, did we ever before see. I gave him a sovereign and a suit of old clothes: his silent bow when he left me was beyond any of Macready's: low, with outstretched arms, expressive at once of gratitude, felicity, despair!—Poor Lhotsky. I read his “Death by Starvation” in spite of its deep sincere tragedy of meaning, with explosions of laughter.——— ——— Hang it, here is the young Whiting,4 come to dun me about this beggar of a Prize-Essay! A most consummate fop. They have got Professor Wilson & Sir D. Brewster5 to act as judges,—will be made men if they can get me! I have put the creature off till next week. I believe I shall at last answer No. Why not at first?

Adieu, dear Brother. I can write no more at present.

Ever Your affectionate / T. Carlyle