July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 15 December 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18551215-TC-JAC-01; CL 30: 141-142


Chelsea, 15 decr, 1855—

My dear Brother,

We go off on Monday, according to program; shall be starting (if all go right) from Waterloo Station, an hour or two after you receive this: I have nothing further to say at present, except to send you the Address more specifically in case you have forgot it, and to confirm what was already said.

I have been down here, in the Drawing room, all week; the Bramah1 infidels, who are about making me a Grate for the upper Greenland, did not come on Thursday as promised; are to come “on Monday” (just about the time of my departure);—when they will actually come I know not; I know only they are too likely to make a botch of their business, as the others have generally done. I am quite sick of employing people to “do” anything for me, in these parts; the one thing certain is they will charge as no creatures of the seed of Adam ever did before, and another probable thing is, their work will not be “done,” will only seem to be done. Surely a Nemesis, huge and terrible, is striding on as with seven-league boots, to demand an account of the works of this British Nation in our day: either the Laws of Nature are nought, or these things are running up a frightful sum of damnation for all concerned!— But we will not go into the “general question” just now. Let every one look well to his own share of the account: that is what he can do.

Piper the Postman's Wife is just dead: a frightful scene of ruin and misery, for the poor man and her, it has been this some time past. She killed herself sitting up at nights for Mazzini's home-coming in past years: that I believe is true. Pecuniary disappointments, chagrins of all kinds,2 came upon the poor woman and her house; at length she took to hating her poor Husband (who was blameable in no part of it) as the evident cause of everything; fell blind, took swellings in the limbs, had nine teeth pulled out by a quack who declared that to be the source of her disorders; at length about three weeks ago, fell more heavily ill; typhus, palsy, and I know not what;—and is now out of it all, poor unfortunate, whom I recollect a brisk pretty woman, ten years ago, and one of the lovingest wives and cleverest managers of a poor thrifty household. There is something that has made me quite sad in what Jane reports about this business. Piper maintains, and has all along, a face impassive as marble,—up six nights in the week, &c &c: eheu, once more! I sent a Bundle of old Clothes to Mary3 yesterday; had a great reluctance to begin packing them; thought (and think) they were without worth, and, except as a testimony of good will, might as well have gone a more expeditious road,—out of window, or otherwise.

Anthony Sterling is home from the Crimea, to return in 10 days. Colin Campbell, sensible to the neglects &c, decided on giving up; came home accordingly, leaving Anthony to sell off all their goods by auction, and then follow. Campbell, solicited and fleeched by all official persons, by the very Queen and royal family, consents to go back; his Letter meets Anthony at Malta, “Kit” all sold off, &c: Anthony decides on coming on to get a new Kit, very angry at the change. He came day before yesterday; called here yesterday, and sat with me an hour. Black beard, size of a moderate cornsheaf; for the rest, hearty and well in health; but utterly disgusted and hopeless over the mismanagements of those affairs. British Army in a state beyond parallel for want of command; Redan4 a shameful business (cowardice, even); Russian Officers far superior to either French or English: no prospect at all of getting the war ended, so far as he can see: in short, British Fighting-Apparatus, at home and abroad, a mere hulk of chaotic imbecillities and rotten fat (so to speak), incapable of fighting anything! He is to dine with us tonight, he by himself.— Adieu, dear Brother, & regards to all.

Yours ever

T. Carlyle


The Lord Ashburton

The Grange

Alresford, Hants.