January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 7 May 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560507-TC-JAC-01; CL 31: 85-87


Chelsea, 7 May, 1856—

My dear Brother,

I send you a poor Oxford & Cambridge Magazine, whh came this morning.1 If you have anything weighty to do or read, you will not get much good of that! In fact it is chiefly worth looking at in the prophetic way; as an indication of the sense and nonsense working in the heads of those young fellows, who will be Legislators &c in a few years, and endeavouring to execute what they think. Please spend another penny stamp upon it, and send it on to Jean, who got the former No, and is the natural proprietress of it: I would have sent it on direct, only she got Fraser the other day, and is probably preoccupied with reading for a night or two.

Fuge did get me Seckendorff bound at last,2 tho' not till after a fortnight of effort. It is all right now, and will be useful to me far beyond its money value. I was in some fear lest it might be only Half the Book; Varnhagen, whom I was re-reading, cites it once “in four volumes”; but again “in two,” whh latter I perceive is the actually correct way.3 We must do without the Journal Sécret,4 as without so many things.— Since you heard last, I have got quite a sublime Book on the 7-years War: an elaborated History in the form of Lectures by the “genl Staff Officers” of those parts for instruction of the Cadets in their military Schools: really, I perceive, an excellt work, with Maps, Plans &c in profusion;5—which is all kept private tho' in print: on proper application, the King of Prussia permits his Ambassador6 here to lend it me for what time I like; and on giving my Note of hand to return it when done with, here it is. An honour indeed:—at least I was glad to get the Book after having applied for it; not to be found in a dishonourable position in regard to the affair: this advantage I am sure of, if many of the rest be problematical!

There has also been a magnanimous proposal made by Chapman for a “Collective Edition” of my duds of Writing: I suppose it will go on; monthly volumes, 6/ each, 16 of them, to start abt September;—but I doubt we shall have a good deal of vile higgling about the terms &c before starting.— The Fk too, I think, will have to go on; two volumes of it, as first Half, sent to the Printer before long. The wreck of it is threatening to choke me otherwise; nor does there seem any so likely plan as that of being chased and forced thro' it.— — I shall be in great want of some exact, acute, faithful person to look over the Proofs &c of “Collective Edition” (whh is to be stereotyped), and also to make a good General Index, which is a job requiring much good sense withal, and a clear steady head and hand. Neuberg I am fallen into a kind of abeyance with, and can, at this time, be either off or on! I am considering what is the real course to follow in such a relation. He has hardly been here at all,—by various accidents and arrangements,—since the night you saw him here so contradictory and piglike!7 But I suppose I must send again soon.— There is a man Ross,8 whom I have been thinking of: a man at regular pay is much the most recommendable;—but I cannot, for the prest, find this one's address. Him or somebody I shall of course get, by endeavouring a little.

We have the grimmest of Mays here; actual frost, and thickish ice on the pools some mornings: last night it has taken to rain, a bitter east-windish, continuing, drizzle (windows all rattling up here); but we count on Sun following.— Tait has got his ugly smear of me put into the Exhibition, I understand: last year they wd not have it; better have stood by that decision.9 I have given up even the weekly reading of a Newspaper; hear, as near as I can, nothing of the circumambient Babble and Palaver. A frightful Dinner at the Wedgwoods, last week,—Greg10 and other dirty, talking snaffles, to exasperate one's indigestions. A do coming tonight (I do fear!) in spite of all my struggling,—the Rennies come home from the Antipodes or Falkland Islands; “old friends,” after their sort! We ought to take precaution.

Jane is pretty well;—as I hope you all are at Scotsbrig. You will be coming up again before long? Kindest brotherly regards to my good Jamie, to Isabella & the rest.

Ever your affecte

T. Carlyle