The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 25 April 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520425-TC-JAC-01; CL 27: 94-96


Chelsea, 25 April, 1852

Dear Brother,

There will be no difficulty about sending you the paper, so soon as we ascertain beyond dispute what kind it is you want. By your last Note I seem to perceive that your favourite is this sort, this that I am now writing on? Only that there are to be two of these leaves in a sheet, instead of only one as here? Now this is not Chorley's paper; this is Darwin's kind; and is sold spontaneously (it, or something like it, for this is not precisely the same as my former stock) at a shop in Oxford Street. Of course they can easily cut it into common note sheets; the form of leaves (as here) is only got by negociation, and not always quite successfully. If you want this kind, say “Darwin's,” half a ream, or whatever quantity; and in a few days it can be forwarded to Jones at the Ln Library (whom I will warn about it),1 and sent up to you (on his giving you warning as I wd direct him to do), along with what Books he may find procurable. It is not bad paper; and, if I remember, rather cheap: I some times find it too slippery, but with certain kinds of pens it still does best, or as well as any.

On the other hand, Chorley's paper, of which I likewise inclose a specimen, is to be got, in quantities, only by industry and treaty; but I think Chorley understands the man to have at this time a ream or half a ream of it on hand:—so that if you wish it, you have only to say “Chorley's,” and state the quantity &c, which will arrive with equal promptitude. It is genuine rag-paper of the old kind, the only specimen I have seen for nearly 20 years; but occasionally I find it a thot too rough; and on the whole, tho' analogous, it is not wholly equal to the last specimen I had of the article in Dumfries before shifting to these parts.— This is the needful concerning paper.

Poor old Cochrane, of whom I had heard nothing till the night before your Letter came, appears to have been lying in a dark “low fever” for above a fortnight,—I suppose probably an aggravated influenza, owing to the hard weather;—and the Doctor (Sir J. Clarke)2 has very bad hopes of him. The poor old man lies deep-sunk, seldom “rightly conscious” (Jones thinks), and awaits, in the heart of such dark whirlpools and abstruse confusions, the issue, of life or death. Two applications for his Office came to me the day before your Letter. Jones had the propriety to give no hint or whisper of any hopes or wishes he might have. He has some merits, poor Jones, and might probably be had cheap; but I fear his ignorance of Bibliography, and indeed of general things, would go hard against him, if a man of any real qualification were to present himself. If a vacancy do occur at present (which I still struggle to consider doubtful), I believe the Committee, at least the standing members and managers, will be quite awake to the considerable worth and perfect good conduct of Jones.

I fancied I had already given Thos Bell charge of the woods on those terms you mention: at any rate, I now give it thro' you, and desire you so to settle the matter with him.

I am always tremulously thankful to hear of my dear old Mother's holding out against this ugly weather. Oh, take care of her; and keep her near the warm corner, except when the sun is shining! People are becoming really grave here on the subject of this iron drought and cold. Not a drop of rain yet; a few days ago the sky, and dark blustering of the cloudy eastwind, promised rain; but that is all gone again, and the bad element of dust and frost and glaring sun rules supreme. Such a time of dust I never saw! In spite of all watering, by innumerable pauper trucks and Paddington Carts3 everywhere, the whole world seems filled with fine dust; thro' every keyhole and crevice it finds access,—lodges in the most concealed drawer; the Queen herself (unless she sit to the chin in spring water) is not able to keep her royal skin clean,—a clean shift upon her royal back it is impossible except for moments to have!— And water is getting scarce in the country parts hereabouts, and grass there is yet as good as none; the sheep, I hear, are perishing in the Hampshire and Wiltshire regions for sheer hunger:—in short, rain is immensely wanted by everybody; and will come, doubtless, at its own time. Often, and seldom more than now, have I admired the prevailing phrase “fine weather,” as commonly used by mankind to express “dry weather” merely! No degree of wet that I ever knew is half so unendurable to Soul and sense as some of the excesses of drought which are frequent even here from year to year.

Adieu, dear Brother: it is highly expedient I should get to some form of work while the day is inexorably travelling on! Give my love to Jamie and Isabella, and all the rest. Bid my Mother not read quite so much; but speak a little with some of you about what she reads! It is interesting and wonderful to see what a glorious faculty she still has for taking in any kind of interesting human discourse of reason. It is the reward of having a simple and clear heart, and being a real and loyal citizen of this Universe.— Yours ever affecte,

T. Carlyle

N.b. this is the Chorley kind of paper