The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 14 January 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530114-TC-JAC-01; CL 28: 10-12


Chelsea, 14 jany, 1853—

My dear Brother,

It is better to send you a poor short Note than none at all: so here goes,—certainly in “haste” enough! I have been unusually weak and out of spirits for the last week or two;—nothing wrong either, except the old sad story of liver, and the etcetera which, in one degree or other are perennial with me:—but I have been quite solitary for most part, silent as a stone; trying to be busy a little, too; twice at the Museum1 (with due headache in consequence): add to which the weather is usually very dark muddy & discouraging:—in short, things have been, and are, in a very chaotic and disturbing state with me. Today, for example, we had again a man repairing tiles in the roof; and I have just had to write for the Plumber, whose cisterns (blessings on them!) whistle in the morning, sometimes for hours, and peremptorily invite the British Subject to get out of his bed who is within hearing of them! But all these things will settle themselves by and by, will they not? Or “come to the same ultimately,” which is about as good! I wrote an immense Letter to Alick last week; and nothing else whatever but briefest Notes, and upon sheer compulsion.

People have no other news to tell one another here, except daily the state of Gladstone's Poll at Oxford: lost so many today; gained so many.2 À la bonne heure [well and good]. It seems G. is sure of his election, if he liked to trouble his friends with mustering. My own private view, which many share, is, it would be better both for him and Oxford, at least suitabler, if he lost; along with Oxford he will never get “pulled straight,” but continue in the labyrinth of Pusey crotchets;3 and for Oxford itself, what so proper result as to send forth their Dudley Percival (a crazy Phantasm in his century) and say openly, “This is our man!”—

You also, it appears, have had some electioneering at Moffat:4 a big letter with a Printed Speech in it, came to me the other day,—directed, I suppose, to every Elector;—to which I could only respond ejaculatively “Allah Akbar [God is great]!” not understanding anything about the controversy, and being completely impartial as to the man.— It is certain, however, all people are greatly contented with this last change of Ministry; and the new broom, which has never yet been laid to the floor, is expected to sweep in an uncommonly effectual way. Alas, alas!—

I remember Ebenr Johnstone right well from the very beginning of my life; and am much interested and affected by what you record of him. The last time I saw him is still very vivid before me. A night now near five-and-thirty ago,5 when I lodged with his good old Mother, and E. and I wandered about the Moffat streets, talking together; since the morrow after that night, I have never once seen him: I was on my road to Kirkcaldy, and he—had no staggering in his feet at that time! Good Heavens, it looks only yesterday, or like a dream of the night!— Give my kind and sympathetic regards to him; his is a Zeitbild [image in time] I can never forget while I continue in this world of Time.

I am getting very scant of news about my poor old Mother: your Note was the last. I designed to write to her today; but cannot now till tomorrow. You should send me some brief bulletin whether I write or not. To Jamie at Glasgow I sent the due Notes, if they can be of any use to him. How is Madame? We hope the cold is gone, and that she takes precautions, and does well in the bad wet weather. Adieu, dear Brother. Send me Jenny's (Hanning's)6 Address. Yours ever

T. Carlyle