August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 25 September 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460925-TC-JAC-01; CL 21:55-57.


Chelsea, 25 Septr, 1846—

Dear Brother,

Exactly a week ago I wrote to you, about myself, about your Dante and other matters: as there was some money in the Letter I partly expected to be certified that you had got it, but have heard nothing; however, I suppose it is all right.

Today Chapman called to speak farther about the Dante affair. I found him on the whole inclined to regard the enterprise as one that might do: he said if the Translation fulfilled my description, it might become the Standard work for Schools, Learners of Italian, and the small class of people who sincerely wanted to attain some knowledge of that subject. He proposed printing the Italian too with the English to face it, wanted much to know what quantity of commentary there would be. On shewing him an Italian Dante, he decided that the work must be in three volumes. Answered farther (a most important answer) that he would expect to have to give money for the Copy;—could not in the least say how much till he saw a specimen, till he accurately knew what the size of the Book would be. As I perceived that he suspected Mazzini to be my man, I thought it good at this stage to name you directly to him, and undertake that you would correspond with him yourself on the subject. This seemed to be satisfactory to him, and he went away in a hopeful fashion.

You are therefore, if you think of persisting in the Enterprise, to get ready with all despatch a small Portion of the Book as you intend it to be; I think a canto would be best, with the Notes all added,—at least in some way a tolerable estimate of the quantity of Notes there may be; that so the size of the Book may be known: he will then answer what money he will give for your Ms. if it suit him, and on the whole will try to make a bargain with you about it.— In this state the negociation now stands waiting for you; I do not see what more can be done in it at present till you yourself intervene. As to the quantum of money, my light is nothing but guessing and darkness: I should think, some £50 a volume might be what he would offer; I should be afraid, hardly more than this,—but as you see I do not in the least know. The man talked hopingly about it on the whole; is a hardy rational man:—in short as you want to get done with the speculation by bringing it to the test of practice, I do not see how you can do better than prosecute this experiment. It seemed to be understood that you would now continue the negociation yourself, and I said expressly, Neither you nor I wanted him to take my recommendation of the enterprise; but he was to decide about it by his own light, when once your specimen arrived:—but whatever more you want me to do in it, of course I shall be very ready to attempt doing with all the skill I have. Let me hear from you at all events, as soon as you can.1

I continue altogether stagnant here; still very sleepy; and as quiet as I can manage to be. I feel very considerably better than when I left you; Jane is very well indeed for her, walks long distances, shower-bathes every morning, &c. I read silly Books; go out for exercise only; sit as silent as Bacon's Brass Head for most part.2— Tomorrow we are to go and dine at the Wedgwoods' with Miss Martineau, who (alas!) is here, and cannot be avoided! Happily she goes off “to Egypt” soon, and will not again bring Magnetic effluxes upon us for some time.3— Robt Browning the Poet has suddenly married,—a Miss Barrett, Poetess, who lay lamed on a sofa for many years, but is now suddenly on her feet again. Good people both: I heartily wish them as happy a pilgrimage as can be had.—

Jamie I suppose has done with his harvest before now? We had no rain till two days ago, and now it seems over again. Helen is going to leave us,—a brother of hers, in some great manufacturing way at Dublin,4 came last night to ask her to go and keep house for him: of course, tho'very sorry, we cannot object.— How is my Mother? Oh be good to her; give her the assurance of my perpetual love. My blessing to you all. Your affectionate T. Carlyle