The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 23 February 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520223-TC-JAC-01; CL 27: 51-52


Chelsea, 23 feby, 1852—

My dear Brother,

I got your Letter on Friday, very welcome to me; and now today, in very great haste, I send a word of answer, as to the needful Thrashing-Machine question.

Beyond dispute that old article belongs, and has always belonged, to the Farm; so it stood in my time; nobody ever bought it, or thought of buying it, since: and so, I suppose, Mr Bell will without any controversy get possession of the venerable fixture. As it must be about 40 years old, I fancy it is in a very frail condition by this time!—

We have terribly cold weather here for a week past or more: bitter, grey eastwind, consisting of mere ice and dust; skies as hard as iron. Most likely it is very good for field-work; but I am anxious to know how my poor Mother stands it;—I conclude she does not in the least venture out; and indeed I think bed, with an interesting book if she had one, wd be the best place for her. Good old Mother:—but there is better weather coming; and surely not very far off now. I myself have caught a little sniff of cold, which is too slight and contemptible to be spoken of; Jane, who mostly keeps within doors, but has gone out just now (2½ p.m.), continues in her usual way. We were at dinner on friday night with one Ellice in Arlington Street (a wide-flowing old Canadian Scotchman, Politician, Negociator &c &c, called “Bear Ellice” in society here, but rather for his oiliness than any trace of ferocity ever seen in him): Thiers, the Ashburtons, Thackeray &c &c were there; and much confused talk, in bad French and otherwise,—it was just at the time when Palmerston was beating the Ministry,1 and Notes &c came in from the Clubhouses; a rather sad evening amid all the levity that was going on! Monsieur, I said to Thiers, who is a goodhumoured little body, but without talents except small and rather contemptible ones, Monsr, aussi nous, nous cheminons à grands pas vers NÔTRE Louis Napoleon; quelque Cromwell Second, qui jetera tout cela dans la rivière. Partout la ‘Constitution’ tiré à sa fin!2 The little man was not much edified by the remark: and in general my seriousness was matter only of amusement to the old stagers. I myself cannot be amused at the things I see.

All people are buzzing about now with tidings of the new Derby-Disraeli ministry: Ld Derby (late Stanley) to be at the top; Sir Stratford Canning (home from Constantinople) Foreign Secy; the Jew Disraeli Home do &c &c:3 of Disraeli's coming in nobody seems to make a doubt; “if not Home Secy, then perhaps even Board of Controul” (which means King of India for the time)— — I must say, Here is a Stump-Orator who has not gone to the wrong market with his beggarly “Ol' Cloe” dyed new! Such are our portents. “It is the hour and the power of Darkness,” as Abbot Samson said: “videat Altissimus [Let the Most High look on it].”4 Amen.

I still keep reading abt Frederic the Great,—dull and dreadful Books (Voigt on the Teutsch Ritterthum [Teutonic knighthood], nine fearful volumes;5 Mirabeau &c &c); but the subject does not the least grow lovelier to me; nor will, I think. It has at any rate the advantage of keeping me silent, and busy in thot with many problems and inquiries.—I am at the bottom of my sheet, and must suddenly draw bridle. It is high time I were out while there is even some glimmer of sun. I wrote to Alick. God bless you all.

T. C.