The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO H. J. MARTIN ; 5 September 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530905-TC-HJM-01; CL 28: 259-260


5, Cheyne Row, September 5, 1853:

Dear Sir,—It appears Sir James Stephen has had the friendly charity to write to you on certain annoyances we are exposed to here, from a tenant of your Father's, in No. 6 of this street. He forwards to my wife the humane and courteous answer you were pleased to return, for which allow me now to offer my sincere and cordial thanks. Surely I am much indebted for this kindness, and in fact I hope you will never know how much, for it is not a very happy experience to be put in the condition of knowing!

You do not hide from me that it is uncertain whether you can effectually help. And in truth I perceive clearly there will be but one way of being effectually helped, namely that of putting the House No. 6 into repair and letting it to a Tenant of the kind called gentleman Tenant amenable to the laws of human politeness, and with habits of life analogous to those of his neighbours in this street, to several of whom (as I incidentally learn) such change would be welcome, tho' to none of them nearly so vital a relief as to me. Such tenants are easily got in this quarter, when means are taken; nay, I understand, my Neighbour of No. 4, a wealthy man, is not disinclined to purchase the house, if it were on sale. You suggest further that I should apply to my Landlord. Alas, Sir, I am my own Landlord, and on that side there is no help for me. Not very many months ago, after living 18 years here, without annoyance, amid neighbours all of quiet, cleanly, and even elegant habits, I did not hesitate to purchase (so soon as there was opportunity to do so) a long lease of this House, and to lay out far more money than I now like to think of in thorough repair of the same.

This painful operation was about completed before my poor Neighbour of No. 6— who seems a worthy unexceptionable man in his way, and whose washings and other unpleasant habits and processes I had contrived to disregard—took it into his head to start this new line of live stock industry and amusement, when it was too late for me to fly from him, as would otherwise have been the clearly open remedy. That is the sad fact, and I crave permission to make that also clear, since the matter is on hand. Of what has passed since on that sorry scene of winged vocal creatures … my whole strength to say nothing. I have never in my life come athwart a tract of miserable grievances at once so contemptible and so intolerable, about which, except to men of delicate character, and acquainted like yourself with sedentary and studious ways it is worse than useless to speak or to appeal.

You may believe me, I am quite ashamed to trouble Mr. Martin Senr or you on such a matter. But in fine, what can I do? No Court or Judge, I believe, can give me the smallest redress. In a state of nature, one could shoot those miserable winged and other vermin, or the inhuman owner of them if he were so madly obstinate and cruel; but in this civilized state this mode of relief is by no means permissable nor has any other been provided! I have nothing for it therefore but to appeal in forma pauperis [as a poor man] in the Court of general Humanity, asking you as a brother student, to be my Advocate and intercessor there. With many thanks and apologies,

I remain

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