October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO JOHN BRADFUTE; 29 July 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340729-TC-JBR-01; CL 7:248-250.


5. Great Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London. / 29th July, 1834.

My dear Sir,—

It is surely the duty of some of us to give special notice at George's Square that Craigenputtoch is desolate, and London sending up the smoke of a new hearth: no doubt, you know it already, but one so well-disposed towards us should know it from ourselves. Nevertheless, my wife, I perceive, is too lazy, so I take the duty in my own hand.

If you remember Battersea Bridge, and Don Saltero's Coffeehouse (celebrated in the Tatler),1 with the ancient row of red-brick mansions clad with ivy and jasmine, shaded by high old lime-trees, along the bank of the River, you have Cheyne Walk, and are within a cat's-leap of Cheyne Row (at right-angles to the Walk, and otherwise a miniature copy of it), where in my new workshop, still and clear almost as the Craigenputtoch one, I now write to you. We like our old House extremely; have got it all set in order, out even to the little garden and the vine and walnut-tree; have a servant of the best quality, and shall begin by and by to feel once more at home. We have both fair health too; Jane especially is much better than before: the change, so needful under every point of view, is happily effected, turn out how it may.

As for Literature and Book-publishing, the more I look at it hitherto, the more confused it looks. Alas, of quite bottomless confusion! Meanwhile, it would seem, Booksellers can actually print Books now, the Author writing them gratis; which is a great improvement compared with former experiences of mine. Not seeking to decipher farther, what is indeed undecipherable, chaotic, fearful, hateful as a madman's dream, I stand by this so comfortable fact; and am actually busy, at all lawful hours, getting ready a new Book; of which (if I be spared alive some months) I hope to show you a copy, and ask your favourable judgement. It is about the French Revolution (but this is a secret), and requires immense preparation. What is to follow after that, will follow.

There is nothing passing here but changes of Ministry and other such daily occurrences; of which the less one speaks it is perhaps the more charitable. Poor Coleridge, as you may have seen, died on Friday last:2 he had been sick and decaying for years; was well waited on, and one may hope prepared to die. Carriages in long files, as I hear, were rushing all round Highgate when the old man lay near to die. Foolish carriages! Not one of them would roll near him (except to splash him with their mud) while he lived; had it not been for the noble-mindedness of Gilman3 the Highgate Apothecary, he might have died twenty years ago in a hospital or in a ditch. To complete the Farce-Tragedy, they have only to bury him in Westminster-Abbey.4

There is now no other Author here of a better than perfectly commonplace character; too many, one grieves to say, are of a worse, of a dishonest and even palpably blackguard character. “My soul come not into their secrets, mine honour be not united to them!5

We have also seen several “celebrated women” of the literary sort; but felt small longing to see more of them. The world indeed is wide enough for all, and each can and shall wish heartily well to all, and faithfully act accordingly:—meanwhile, if poor Mrs. Featherbrain Irrational All-for-glory and Company are walking in the western quarter, we shall do it all the better by keeping ourselves in the eastern.— But, in fine, there is a fraction of worth and wisdom here in London such as I have found nowhere else: let us use this, enjoy it, and be right thankful for it.

I get hardly any news from Edinburgh, well as I love and shall always love that old stone Town. It is hard, but clear and strong, in spirit as in outward form; built on rocks, looking out upon the everlasting sea. May it flourish, and …6 gain dominion over it!

You, my dear Sir, I am afraid, hardly write. … Bess7 drives a most lively pen, and never sent us a Letter that [was a dud;] tell her this (a genuine fact), and bid her write whether my lazy [wife writes or not.] Mrs. Welsh sends us intelligence that you are both as well as [usual,] cheerfully enjoying your summer there; and for one day at least I [could desire]8 us in the midst of your flowers. As for me, are not, in these very days, “two cigars” (of your giving) constantly in my coat-pocket, when I go out; how should I forget you?

Will you remember me very kindly to my good Mr. Aitken;9 for whom I think I shall have a commission again by and by? And so all happiness and peacefulness be with you and those dear to you!

I remain, / My Dear Sir, / Yours very truly, /

T. Carlyle.