July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO JWC ; 23 September 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580923-TC-JWC-01; CL 34: 195-198


Chelsea, Thursday 23 Septr, 1858—

Nothing from you today still, my Dear; and last night, Charlotte, just while running over with your Bulletin (directed “Lann Hall,” yet in your hand this morning all the same, I will hope) got a Note from you, speaking ominously of some “illness” (sudden and dangerous, it wd seem) whh you have had since I heard last! Alas, alas!— I need not say how impatient I am.

Our journey after Dresden, continued with the usual velocity and tribulation: Over Hochkirch1 (beautiful outlook from the steeple there, and beautiful epitaph on Marshal Keith,2 one of the 700 that perished in that spot, the church doors still holed with the musketry there); over Leipzig, where Foxton rejoined us, and had brought Tom Wilson, from Weimar,—after our thrice-toilsome day at Torgau); then from Weissenfels3 over Rossbach the last in our series, thank Heaven! Wilson, who was very good quiet and rational amid the circumambient chaos, went straight home from Weissenfels, and left us to follow (the best road, he again and again declared, whh it was not) after doing Rossbach, a hot work and a sandy! We also then got into the Weimar train from Weissenfels; found little Marshall4 (who sends profound compliments) and Wilson all blithe in waiting; and what was better, a fine quiet bedroom, looking out upon desert garden ground, in the Inn already known to me;5 when I procured one human sleep; and also a tub with water enough next morning,—and in short was greatly refreshed, the rather as I absolutely refused to go about, except in the narrowest limits, next day and preferred lying on my bed, asleep or not, to all the “sights” in Nature. At 3 p.m. we had to go again: the Grand Duchess6 sent a telegraph (being telegraphed to), most gracious, but it was to no purpose: I did wish to see the high Lady (very clever and distinguished, every body says); but it involved waiting 24 hours in an uncertain hostelry at Eisenach,7 and then getting off at 2 a.m.,—therefore resolutely, “No! illustrious Madam!”— — Next day, from Guntershausen,8 near Cassel,9 to Aix-la-Chapelle,10 edge of the Netherlands, was among the hardest in my experience for physical misery: begins at 5 (i.e. 4) a.m., no sleep behind it, nor any food before it, and last incessantly till 7 p.m. oftenest in slow trains, thro' broiling sun, sand clouds and manufacturing smoke,—ach Gott! My living was a cup of most lukewarm coffee swallowed like physic (whh it much resembled, as all German coffee does), and for eating to it, not even a crumb of bread-and-butter, raw-ham and bread,—to be washed down too in one of minute of time! On this, with a glass of soda-water & cognac, and farthing-loaf of tough bread, picked up somewhere, human nature had to subsist to Aix; arrive there abt 7, about 8½ try to eat, if you could, something tepid and questionable!11 Happily the bedroom12 was once more human: I was thoroughly done up; had I not slept there, I know not what cd have become of me. Next morning (Tuesday), stand upon the lid of Charlemagne,13—abominable monks roaring out their idolatrous grand music within sight;—Then embark again; scour along amid blazing sun and torrents of sand (speedy, but otherwise the damnablest travelling ever contrived for man); arrive at Ostend 6–7 p.m.; get on board a boat to Dover (mail-steamer) 6 hours (nothing to be had as living; Neuberg & others very sick); in Dover, 1 a.m.; tumult of custom houses, of overcrowded inns; in despair, try tea, and retire to one's garret,14 with nothing to depend upon but lucifers and tobacco thro' the night. It was not so bad as might have been expected, and I actually had some hour or two of broken sleep. Next day (yesterday) a fine train up to Town (12 noon—3½), Foxton branching off at Redhill (Reigate),15 and taking leave almost with tears.16 By the River Steamer17 I reach home, 4½ p.m, or rather later, and instantly wrote you an announcement; and did little else all night. Today after a good sleep, good coffee &c, I have as bad a headache as need be desired; and trace the strapazen [wearisomeness] of this Journey in a lively manner. I feel in me (down in the breast chiefly) the stock of cold I have had secretly these 3 weeks past;18 but otherwise ail nothing. Am busy sorting, with violent speed, the insignificant coil of “correspondence” &c,—chiefly some money bills, one from Tauchnitz19 £75, one from Ch Butler £1420 (that will pay all my expences and all yours, and is the only significant thing amid the dreary scrawls!)— I am going out to the Bank with these my first road. Poor Jack had provided me with tobacco &c, and was very good: I saw him for a little while last night; Nero trotting over with me, all as if it had been daily custom witht any interruption;—Jack had called here, and been turned away, while I lay asleep after my dinner of chop. Poor Waugh21 is dead, at Annan; trouble none of you any more: ah me, ah me! Jack had no other news.

I am grieved to the bone to think of you hurrying home on my account. I say, if I have any authority at all, Don't! Send me word where the keys are, if you can, I shall do quite well; or even if you cannot, I shall do well enough witht keys. Chambers22 lies ill next door; I have not heard how.— It is now your turn to write daily long letters: this is my last! For God's sake take care of yourself! My compliments and kind remembrances to both the Russells. I am still up to the throat in bother, and have such a headache. Adieu, dear Goodykin, Adieu. Yours ever

T. Carlyle