The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 7 October 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18511007-TC-JAC-01; CL 26: 195-197


Chelsea, 7 Octr, 1851—

My dear Brother,

Your Note came yesterday morning; today the Box has come, 5/ freight. Thanks for all the pains you took, in that and other things! I have unscrewed the Box; which is all firm and clear outside; and within too nothing is essentially hurt: only, alas, the half-full Pitcher has given way to pressure from without, and is rent into various pieces! The want of interior solidity, and the pressure of the little bag within its mouth have done it. We leave it silent in the Box till Jane get one of her big dishes scalded &c; she will then shift the butter into that, cautiously, cannily; and all will again be well! We shall of course eat that portion first: good butter is now welcome here, the fresh and other common sorts having quite gone away. We will tell you next time how this tastes: meanwhile, all well, and thanks!

I have yet done almost nothing but sleep, sleep! Such a weight of sleep has not been upon me these seven years. I walk every morning in the Brompton-Kensington Lanes; scrib[b]le1 somewhat or dawdle about; then another walk at 3, avoiding all mortals; read at night;—towards 10 o'clock, then falls on me somnolency like a flood. “Very bilious” I do believe; and today in my right shoulder is a sharp spot of rheumatism: ruhe, ruhe [rest], I will fairly rest myself, and rejoice in the safety of home. Our weather is blustery and damp: I believe none of the Ashburtons are yet come, or like to come till the weather brighter; they were all, especially the poor Lady, taken with colds &c, and obliged to be chary about travelling weather.— I have not seen poor Chorley, have not seen anybody. Piccadilly in the wet, with all its dirty beards, is not an inviting scene for me.

Walter Welsh and the Kirkaldy parson, one Bryden a handy fellow “from Dumfries,”2 came here to breakfast on friday last: happily they were so late, I was shaving or had shaved, and saw very little of them. They were to go directly, and preach on Sunday. The Exhibition, the Exhibition,—with a murrain on it! On Sunday at dinner time, Tom Jewsbury and another,—Exhibitions too,—announced themselves: I whisked out “to walk”; saw nothing of them; had determined to see nothing of such stupid superfluous fellows. On Saturday first, thank Heaven, the big Soapbubble will finally collapse;3 and then there will be a prospect of peace again. M. Laborde, in Paris, bragged that they wd have an “Exposition” there, even bigger, and even grander far: “I wish ye luck o' the prize, man!”4 was the answer of one's heart. Paris looks very odd to me across the realities of Chelsea. On the whole, a sordid, ragged kind of object, tho' frilled and gilt. Of all the Cities in nature I feel as if there were least there for the essential soul of man. Tuileries Garden, Champ de Mars &c &c struck me most, this time, by their dingy, dirty, unswept conditn; poor Champ de Mars, and its Feast-of-Pikes Embankment!5 The Embankment once “30 feet high” has now flattened itself out to 8 or 10, is all over with weeds, its trees all scrubby, and many pieces of it torn quite away;—lying waste as the Ha' Quarry,6 with mere balloons and reviews, that poor Champ de Mars. And a people of such seichtheit [shallowness] and such crackling self-conceit! The innumerable soldiers, patrols, corps-de-garde &c strike you much everywhere, five percent of the Population seem to be in those red trowsers (shaped like a pair of bellows from the waist downwards) in those pinched blue coaties and strange porringer caps! But they are very civil all, poor devils;—and, as I said to myself, have resolved into the marrow of the bone that they will either have something genuine to govern them or else will fight perpetually (at short intervals) till they all die. Which really is something considerable, after all. And very tragic surely, with their present outlooks.— I remarked that the only clever, really solid and able men I saw were of the Industrial sort; chefs d'atelier [foremen], manufacturers of bronzes, hatters and the like: giants in stature and veracious as prophets, in comparison with Thiers and the parliamentary and literary canaille! In which fact lay room for reflexions very many.

Last night I was reading in the Quarterly Review:—very beggarly Crokerism, all of copperas and gall and human baseness, upon Maurice and Kingsley among other “revolutionary literature.”7 No viler mortal calls himself man than old Croker at this time. In the rest of the No is more torpor and vacuity: alas, alas, how one is changed since the like of that seemed glorious and a revelation! I have a Fraser here which my good Mother shall get,—straightway. Item a Westr Review very soon.— — How glad I am to hear your report of my Mother. Now that you are with her, I feel as if there were a screen round her frail existence, so frail, now and so precious to us all! Adieu dear Brother.— This is Chorley's new paper;8 very nice indeed. My love to every one at Scotsbrig. Yours ever affectionately— T. Carlyle