January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO JOSEPH NEUBERG ; 13 April 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590413-TC-JN-01; CL 35: 73-75


Chelsea, 13 April, 1859—

Dear Neuberg,

West-Wickham is a pleasant very ancient and yet still modern village, 2 miles off Croydon to eastward, and about 12 southward from London;1 in whh stood, and I believe still stands (well secluded by its Park-walls and shady beeches), the Mansion of Gilbert West2 Esqr an amiable ästhetisch-fromaner [aesthetic good] Herr in easy circumstances (and given to write upon St Paul &c: “Conversion of Saint Paul;” item “Observatns on the History of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ” London (1747; also verses I think;3 but you can hide these details);—whh Gilbert, to whom I suppose they went out on Saturday &c &c, was the central figure (at least in men's idle hands) to this group of persons. I know West Wickham well; and know whh mansion I guess to have been Gilbert's,4 tho there is nobody now about, who cd tell you with more certainty than a horse cd;—a beautiful bit of God's Earth, all torn to pieces (inwardly, even when not outwardly as here, for the railways go all on the other side of Croydon as yet)5 by sordid sooty gnomes looking after scrip and nuggets,—sorrow on them! Except for deficiency, or even total want, of swift clear brooks and streams, this is to my experience the finest part of England, or indeed of the Planet Earth for really human purposes and objects.— There are many Wickhams in England; spelt Wiccombe (High Wiccombe still a considerable Town,6 in Buckingmshire), Wykeham “(Wm of Wykeham” founder of Winchester School, Builder of Windsor, Architect7 spiritual too, and a still memorable man after 4 centuries);—all pronounced Wick am. Name means that the place was a Roman Vicus [village] before it became a Saxon heim [hamlet].—— You need only 3 words, indeed cannot stand more;—and must pick them out of this barrowful.

I am sorry about Adelung's Pragmatische: I fear that of Göttingen will be far too romantic;8 and indeed I see no daylight thro’ the business, except that one will have to do without,—as in many other cases.

My worst news is, a very bad fit of cold whh has come upon my poor Wife again. She caught it (as I did a dose too) in that sudden burst of heat we had, inducing one to strip too suddenly. A very bad fit indeed; the worst I have known for long years, if ever; nor can I say with the least confidence that the worst of it is yet over. Come down on Sunday Evg (unless I write to the contrary), and see for yourself.

I have heard nothing of Prints from Magnus or any one;9 pray tell him not to bother;—this too I must do without. The stupidity of mankind, in the past times and also the present, as to what things they “collect” and what things they don't, is very considerable;—nor is this the only way they shew that sad quality in these Fields not Elysian where I now am, and I believe, in others.—God Above deliver me once out of this, alive; and see if all the universe cd persuade me in again!

One small thing practicable is, A Box of Mitchell's Steel Pens “J”;10 pray remember that for Sunday Evg. Item to bring back the Preuss, the Helden-leben the &c,11 if you have done with them for the prest (not otherwise): I never know when I shall not be sent hunting rearward into some of them. Pretty much my one wish is, I could say to them: “Adieu forevermore my Dears: dwell peaceable in Chaos thro’ all Eternity for me!”

No more at present. Yours always truly T. Carlyle