The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 8 July 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520708-TC-JAC-01; CL 27: 158-160


Chelsea, 8 july, 1852—

My dear Brother,

We are in a furious uproar here, nothing but bricklayers, dust and tumult over all the house; a “thorough repair” going actually on! I am banished up to my little dressing-closet here, behind the bedroom; here stands my desk, with a few books; the rest are all now mere stacks of books, or pinned in their shelves with curtains, to keep off the unspeakable dust: it is truly a hot case we are in. For, besides there has come a blazing heat (physically speaking too) within these four days, very horrible for human creatures among bricks; and if thunder and rain don't come soon, it will be bad times with us, I perceive. Meanwhile it is not quite so unendurable as I expected; I have off all the carpets here; I keep a wateringpot beside me, and fearlessly moisten both floors and walls; so that with windows down, and plenty of wind blowing, and almost no clothes at all, I contrive to get along. Want of sleep is the worst; but it raises us at a far thriftier hour, and makes a nice long day, for one thing,—so is not without its advantages too.

The chief “repairs” contemplated are an enlargement of the library,—conversion of the library into a kind of Drawingroom, according to the modern ideas. They are taking back the fireplace (two feet of that great tower of brickwork are gone out of the way); new proper windows with a great increase of light; lastly three feet additional width to be taken off Jane's bedroom,—Jane will shift to the top front room, which used to be yours, which, with this of mine, she has undertaken to make “very handsome.” We are also to get water into the house &c &c. There will remain always behind the drawingroom, a guest's bedroom, tho' contracted in size,—where we hope to see you one day, our first guest in it if we are in luck!— I sincerely hope this may be the last job of the kind I may ever be concerned in. But after mature survey of our affairs, there did not seem to be any practicable shift so good as that of settling ourselves where we are: ah, me! And so we are going at this enterprise with due energy, so far as this will serve us. A man, I know, is independent of his lodging; but it grieves me much to think I have no prospect now, or at least less than ever, of getting back to live among quiet fields: I must take my lodging here, and see what fraction of work I can still wring out of my existence; there is nothing else in it that is, or indeed was, or is ever like to be, worth a stiver to me. We have got a “Lease of 31 years,” and fair basis for changing the house into our own image as nearly as it will come: so En avant! The place too is very cheap;1 and on the present terms (whatever become of us) an outlay of £200 or £250 is considered a perfectly safe investment. The man (a very good kind of man, Helps's and Chorley's) undertakes to have done in about six weeks—(Hoohoo! my time is totally up, dear Brother; here has Jane come in with the alarm; and I must put you off till night! Adieu)—

Same Evg, 7 p.m.— We went to Twistleton's by appointt, to see some Puritan Portraits; especially two portraits, one of Oliver by Walker (genuine, but of no great worth), another, or rather 3 others at difft ages of Old Subtlety, Lord Say and Sele, ancestor of the said Twistleton.2 Just as we were going off (when Jane came with her “alarm”) a bearded child of Abraham, Neuberg's Brother, straight from Bonn, came in,—very much at the wrong time;—then farther there was a mistake in the Omnibuses &c: in short our expedition had its difficulties; but it went off very well; and here am I again writing to you, while the masons are still raging, and tea has not yet come.— Twistleton, by the way, has just returned from a third voyage to America, and this time, has brought a little Wife with him, whom he went for about the beginning of May! She is a black-eyed lively little creature, with abundant spirit, clever and rather eager to shew that she is; has money, I believe, as Tn has; was called Dwight, and belonged to the haute volée [high rank] (bless the mark!) of that Boston Community.3 He is now in his Brother's house,—the Ld Say and Seele that now is,4—and the Pictures &c are only “his” for ten days longer. A very good man of his kind; and abundantly happy his little Dame and he appear: they are for Italy in winter. Good luck to them,—eheu!

The Quality are all gone with the Parlt; gone light5 a flight of partridges, all at once. Our western streets are much clearer than they were a week ago. Of the Election I take no notice whatever: some say Wm Coningham has a kind of chance for Westminster (not at all likely); we even understand that Anthony Sterling is standing for some borough (Cornish, I rather think),—driven to it, he professes, by sheer want of business in the world!6— — The other night a Package of Books from Neuberg arrived; brot from Aachen by Bunsen's Courier, gratis, long life to him. I never saw such cheap Books as those old German ones when there is no carriage to pay.

How is my Mother; I fear this heat will be hard on her too: perhaps better take up her carpet, and use a wateringpan? It really does a great deal of good in that case. Tell her I got her Review hustled aside somehow; but will send it along with this. Alas, I wish I had anything to send that could do one so dear to me any good! I send my wishes and love to her all days of the year; but this is all I have to send! Here are two German woodcuts, that came in the Neuberg packet as waste,—if you like to spend a lick of water upon them, they would cover two knots in the wood of the bed!—

The iron pen is not a good article: I am terribly off for pens! Adieu dear Brother; there is tea. I will write soon again. My blessings with you all. T. C.

Thursday morning. Another blazing day—with the masons all humming. But I have slept much better, and shall do well enough. I have wrapt up the Fraser &c, which will come along with this. Basta [Enough].