The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 5 July 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510705-TC-JAC-01; CL 26: 101-103


Chelsea, Saturday [5 July 1851]

Dear Brother,

At length I can pay you the “tagrag of an amount,” and liberate that snip of paper in your handwriting from the Clip where it has hung imprisoned so long. I have added Jean's account (3 shillings for Carriage, which is my best recollection); you must also give my dear old Mother a five-pound note for me (which she will accept for my love's sake, and get some good or agreeable thing for herself with it): this brings the sum to £16 as you see;—the odd fivepence, if you are at a loss with that, may be given to little Jenny1 with my respects! And now I think we have done with this part of our affairs.

I could not clearly know, till this morning when your Letter came, that the Medallion had arrived safe, tho' I supposed it likely, and had settled for it with my little man:2 a rather slow business too! Our notion here is, my Mother may have chosen well as to frames; and I am very glad to hear the other party are content with their lot. Tell Jean there can be no vestige of doubt about my obligation and determination both to liquidate that money-debt and to make her a present of a Medallion (which I hope will greatly enrich her, and indeed quite set her on her feet in this world); and therefore that she must not bother herself or you or me with one other word on the subject, but quietly submit to her fate.— As to the jean trowser, don't mind too much: Graham3 will probably have some dim-coloured drill which is nearly equivalent stuff, and if good, and of a deep enough colour, will very well serve the purpose: if you do not like, in either of these particulars, what he has, never mind the business farther: I really am in no passion about it,—having already two new pairs of that useful article.

Our weather was growing dreadfully hot; but there rose along with the sun's blaze a strong east-wind for some days, which taught one to expect thunder and cooling again. Accordingly on Tuesday, with really very little thunder, the rain began; two or three showers, sky like a thick wet blanket (much too thick) all day; and at night and next day, a right hearty allowance, whh had cooled us all, on Thursday, to the shivering point, and not till today are we quite warm enough again. The weather may be pronounced beautiful here, all this summer.— The inconceivable detestable racket of the place, too, seems to be already abating, fewer quality carriages visible on the streets amid the torrents of cabs and omnibuses; in a week or two I suppose they will begin fairly to go, and much more quietness of all kinds will supervene. The quantity of bearded gobemouches,4 and foolish foreign blockheads gathered by this glass soap-bubble, seems greater than ever. But “lodgings,” it is said, were never cheaper than now! Also not a stroke of trade is going on in any shop (Bookshop or other):—they that can believe in Cole and Albert as Evangelists, they must take the consequences of such Gospel as they will get! I hold my peace sedulously all this summer; and feel as if it were a universal children's ball; as if all the little youngsters of the Nation in their best frocks had been set to dance and eat comfits, the elders meanwhile rigorously ordered either to dance with them, or else sit silent, and not look sour upon them. All nonsense ends: that is our great comfort. Be quiet a little; and it will all have taken wing again!—

Yesterday, and not till then, I got fairly thro' my fasheous revisal of Sterling's Life; and it is now all into the Printer's hands, about half of it fairly thro' them, and the rest not likely to require very much correction, a good deal of it hardly any. I was shocked to discover on ending that it wd be well on to a hundred pages longer than I had meant: fairly over the lip of 400,5 all that I can do! There are a good many extracts and Letters, some of whh could have been omitted. But I fairly let the Book take its own swing, having decided, in this latter operation as in all the others upon it, to exclude the bibliopolic altogether, and let it be as “short” as it liked: so now that it has become too long, I think I will even let it stay so. Man muss einmal fertig werden [The matter has to be resolved sooner or later].— It will be good enough reading (except to violent Churchmen, or indeed to unviolent); otherwise worth nothing.

On Thursday I went to hear Thackeray end; Jane and I. The audience inferior to what I had heard; item the performance. Comic acting good in it; also a certain gentility of style notable: but of insight (worth calling by the name) none; nay a good deal of pretended insight (morality &c with an ugly “do” at the bottom of it) which was worse than none. The air grew bad; I had only one wish, to be out again, out, out!— Thackeray has not found his feet yet; but he may perhaps do so in that element, and get (as Darwin expresses it) into some kind of “Thackeray at Home,”6 in which he might excel all people for delighting an empty fashionable audience.

T. Erskine is here,—upon some surgical affair, I believe,—tho' he looks otherwise well: “19. Edward Street, Portn Square,” I once saw him there, not again. Farie is persuading us to a Water-cure, either at Malvern or Hesse Darmstadt.7 I really believe it might be the usefullest thing I cd do! No arithmetic can count the load one carries from evil liver alone. Sometimes I think of sitting quiet here: the jolting and jumbling I get in all kinds of travelling makes me shudder.— Tell my dear Mother I do not forget her, nor ever will while I live! Nothing is yet settled abt our movets here. I am bilious to a degree; better however than last year. Hn Welsh is gone Commend me to Jean to Isabella, Jamie and them all.

Affectionately yours—

T. Carlyle