January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO JOHN FORSTER ; 5 April 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560405-TC-JF-01; CL 31: 59-61


Chelsea, 5 April, 185[6]—

Dear Forster,—I got another Note from that old Lady at Deptford,1 which I meant to send you; but (happily) it has fallen aside, into the fire. She will be punctual to the time in meeting with your man; she hints rather a wish not to sell her Long Annuities;2 but to have the whole £300 laid out in an Annuity by itself,—thereby for three years she would have a plentiful time, and then suddenly fall short. “Perhaps dead before three years”: that is her poor old notion, I guess.— It seems to me this whim of hers, if she produce it, ought to be mildly rejected, as evidently proceeding from an improvident frame of mind.3

But the grand point is that we get, now at last, done with her affairs. Done at last forever and a day! Oh I will pray for punctuality, for successful speed. I will hope your next Note will be to the effect: Finished now and no mistake! We shall then have nothing but the Times Advertisement to despatch, and wash our hands of the business to all eternity.

For the last two weeks I have been a good way below par in respect of health; east-wind catarrhs, went off, and today a kind of relapse: I am also getting ill on with work or rather not on at all. Courage, dear F.; for you also have too much weight on your back just now!4 Times do mend: there is an opulence of tender mercy withal lodged in this strange Universe, abstrusely amid its iron rigours and devouring vengeances, which sometimes surprises the pious heavy-laden heart. We will work to the last, anyway. And you, I hope, you are getting some kind of clerk or clerks to lighten you a little?—

Pray put into The Examiner, if you have not done so this week, a Sentence of Landor's about our thrice-detestable English word “Pluck” (pah! viler word was never coined by dogs). Landor's utterance is in the last Fraser; and did my heart good. See the first of those two “Imaginary Conversations”;

View larger version:
[in this window]
[in a new window]

Maggie Welsh by Robert Scott Tait, 8 April 1856.

Courtesy of Columbia and Edinburgh University Libraries.


which really is as good as anything I ever saw from Landor.5 Do you think the grand old Pagan wrote that Piece just now? The sound of it is like the ring of Roman swords on the helmets of Barbarians. An unsubduable old Roman!— Also make my loyal respects to him the first time you write.

And so adieu dear Forster; and a speedy meeting to us after that Deptford wreck is cleared away. Yours ever truly / T. Carlyle