April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 10 April 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480410-TC-JWC-01; CL 23: 10-13


Chelsea, 10 April 9 p.m. [1848]

Alas, my Dear, I am quite unable to write, if I even had the material of news, which I have not,—being quite cut up today, all day; full of pains and aches; not Caliban but a cramp!1 We got quite successfully to Town last night,2 and I quite successfully home; where I soon roused Anne, deposited my pouring umbrella, smoked a pipe, and got to bed,—but there it was that the Demon got me, for I could not sleep, not after various trials and appliances; my ride yesterday, too, seems to have stirred up the confusions in me:—in short, I have lived all day without speaking twenty words hitherto; a most shivering dispirited disgraceful kind of creature (for my scribbling too wouldn't in the least prosper), and am more like an ancient Egyptian mummy at present than a modern living British man.

How can I tell you of the “revolution,” in these circumstances?3 I did go out earlier than usual, to see it; or at least all buttoned up, and decided to walk myself into a glow of heat: but—but the venomous cold wind began unexpectedly, in Cadogan place, to spit rain, and I had no umbrella! At the Burlington Arcade4 things had grown so questionable in that respect, I resolved to step in and look at the caricatures for a few minutes; which done, I found the rain had commenced pouring; and I had nothing for it but to hail a Chelsea Omnibus, and come home again, where I still am. Judge whether I can tell you of the “revolution”: my sole knowledge of it is from my eyes in the above short distance, and from a kind of Official individual, a “Paisley Lawyer bodie”5 (not known to you, I think) to whom I put three words of question, and got an answer of inordinate length,—indeed longer than I would take, with the rain just beginning to be serious.

Know however, O Goody, that there is no revolution, nor any like to be for some months or years yet; that the City of London is as safe and quiet as the Farm of Addiscombe; and that empty rumour, and “150,000” oaths of special constables, is hitherto the sole amount of this adventure for us. Piccadilly itself, however, told us how frightened the people were; directly at Hyde Park Corner one could see that there was something in the wind. Wellington had his iron blinds all accurately down;6 the Green Park was altogether shut, even the footpaths of it; the big Gates of Constitution Hill,7 and in the inside of these stood a score of mounted guardsmen, privately drawn up under the arch,—dreadfully cold, I dare say. For the rest not a single fashionable carriage was on the street; not a private vehicle, but I think two surgeons' broughams, all the way to the Egyptian Hall8 omnibuses running, a few street cabs, and even a mud-cart or two; but nothing else. The flag-pavements also nearly vacant; not a fifth of their usual population there, and those also of the strictly business kind; not a gentleman to be seen; hardly one or two of the sort called gents.9 “Most mysterus!”10 Happily, however, the “Paisley bodie” explained it all to me: A meeting, some kind of meeting, had been allowed to take place at Kennington common; but Feargus O'Connor had there warned the said meeting, that there would and should be no “procession,” but that everybody, under pain of broken crown, must now make for home in a detached capacity.11 Which, said the Paisley bodie, is at this time, as an orderly has just announced at Hyde Park corner, being peaceably done. And, continued he, the people of these streets are all gone to the New Road,12 to &c, in hopes of seeing the “procession” pass. And there is no procession! And—I started off here, waving my adieus, and took shelter in Burlington Arcade. This, Dear, is all I know about the No-revolution we have just sustained; and if you want farther particulars, I have no doubt they are abundant and redundant in the Times, which of course has reached you as soon as this surprising Private Historical Account can. And so may the Lord put an end unto all cruel wars.13

The Arcade caricatures, the latest French, are of extreme worthlessness: Louis-Philippe as a Pear, in various forms of ruin; getting his whiskers shaved; begging with Guizot fiddling to him; and other such small ware. There are Prints too of the Provisional Government: Arago a vulgar contentious-looking Relief Minister, Dupont an excellent fattish old Justice of the Peace (the only comfortable man among them);14 Lamartine, hair cropt almost to the bone, and long nearly bare neck, a true pilgarlock, not without signs of future insanity (more like old Muirhead the Closeburn Schoolmaster than any face you have seen);15 Garnier Pagès, a man five-and forty, like Percy Hunt become Railway Director;16 Louis Blanc an amiable clever, rather greedy and decidedly green looking little fellow, of soft round features (very much like a gifted artist, of the Pugin School);17 Ledru Rollin, an impudent loquacious voracious blackguard (if there be truth in physiognomy), with snub nose, big lips, large, deep-set, liquorish-looking eyes, and much hypocritical melancholy and solemnity, a very dangerous blackguard I should say,—like a male Mother Cole of the worst kind.18 Mais,—ah mes amis, ce n'est peut être pas vrai [But—oh my friends, it is perhaps not true]! For Marrast's figure is there too, and in no one feature could I recognise him: he is more like Plattnauer than Marrast.19— Ach Gott, did any body ever sit writing such stuff! Had I not better be walking, be even smoking, and thou at rest at least!—

Creek had called on Saturday with a new volume from Knight, Half-hours with best Authors, or some such title;20 worth nothing at all. No other person here. No Letter today but this of yours, which I suppose is by Geraldine, and will tell you about Forster and the “ugliest of human kind canst thou declare.”21

Tomorrow evg I will faithfully have the Ape's Novel at Stanhope Street:22 nay if I had it tonight, I shd be tempted to send it by post: but Jack has carried all the volumes off, and today he was not at home when I called in going up. Good night, my dear little woman: God bless thee always. T. Carlyle

Tuesday—11 a.m.

Sir H. Verney's Groom came down, while I was at breakfast, with a message for the Sterling Book;23 a long rigmarole letter about still wishing to see Cooper, but not daring;24 and this Note for you,—the cover of which I burst (reading nothing) to save a stamp. Prosit [Much good may it do you].— — The Cap Parcel shall be left duly at Stanhope Street today: the Cap Letter, I hope, will come in time for tonight.

The morning is calm, hot and beautiful: I have my green blinds down; and rejoice much (among my many miseries) in being at least quiet. Alas, what say I “miseries”? I ought to cut and tear my way into another Book, and write that: there is not, nor ever was, any Cure for all manner of miseries to me but that! If one be not too great a coward, there is a remedy for all things; and the Earth's injustices are all capable of being conquered into blessings. Courage!

Good be with you, dear little Jeannie: write me a word, how you sleep &c. As for me, let me try my poor old stump of a pen again,—my poor right hand that seems to have lost all its cunning. Mit der Dummheit— Ach Gott [With stupidity— Ah, God]!25 Ever yours

T. C.