July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO WILLIAM BINGHAM BARING ; 8 February 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480208-TC-WBB-01; CL 22: 240-242


Chelsea, 8 feby, 1848—

Dear Mr Baring,

We are much concerned to hear of the poor Lady's new illness:—all seems ill at present, and nothing well; from Milan and the Kingdom of Naples1 up to Chelsea and Alverstoke, the time, take it which way we will, is sick and out of joint;2 all writing under influenzas of various sad kinds, the cure of which is by no means apparent yet! For the bodily influenzas I hope the clear spring skies are at hand; for the others, I take it, the day of healing is still distant. If her Ladyship will take care of herself, we hope to see her in sunshine again before long,—which element I take to be her native one; very unlike that of some other good British subjects!

Here we seem advancing towards recovery, yet at a very deliberate pace. I myself have never got entirely rid of that paltry cough; and have had to pass my days, ever since the Bear took me away that morning,3 in a most self-secluded dim-lit abstruse condition. After all, it is “the nature of the beast.”— Poor Mrs C. has got down stairs for the first time this morning; she proposes even to venture out, so mild is the temperature, if the sky would but shew itself blue any day, as certainly it must some day.4

I passed thro' Stanhope Street yesterday; all stood composed, shut up as in decent casements of death or temporary-death.5 Croucher will wait for Capefigue till you come.6— I thought I had seen Fleming yesterday, on his red horse; and it appears he is down in Hampshire, killing unfortunate ladies!—

Cobden appears to be everywhere considered as having made a fool of himself a little, with his Calico Millenium!7 Indeed I believe his head may have got rather heated with the many foolish dinners he has been eating, all over Europe, for a year past;8 and Manchester itself, I have often had occasion to notice, is quite puffed up, and fancies it can rule the world, ever since that Anti-Corn-Law achievement. One of the most palpable mistakes on the part of Manchester; which is, and will for a long time remain, a very dark, greasy-minded, and quite limited place, in spite of its skill in calicoes! Poor Cobden, I remember, qualified the Corn-Law achievement as the greatest since Jesus Christ's;—and thereby, I should think, pretty well classed himself, and marked out what place and magnitude were his, among the world's rulers. God help you in that Parliament of yours, with your beatified Bagmen, poetic old-clothes men, inspired watchmakers, and other Protean phenomena! I much prefer solitude, in any dim corner that has a door and lock, for my own behoof. A little tobacco, and no blockheadisms permitted here: what a blessing in comparison!

Chadwick's sewer-engineers have up an old rag of tent, on the top of our old Church here;9 and I daily see them telescoping and working,—fettling the World-Besom (as I say) for the Scavenger God, whom I suppose Chadwick to be; the only kind of God we are fit for at present, poor blinded downtrodden slaves as we are! Success to the Scavenger God, therefore; let him go forth sweeping and to sweep: such really is my prayer.

Yours ever truly, /

T. Carlyle