TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 12 December 1837; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18371212-TC-JAC-01; CL 9:363-368.
TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE
Chelsea, 12th December, 1837—
My dear Brother,
It is exactly eight days since your Letter1 reached us; right welcome as all your Letters are. I sent it off to Manchester and our Mother, where I suppose it has been since yesterday. The Diario with three strokes had arrived duly: that I sent forward to Dumfries for a sign of you. By the last Courier you would see that I had got your new address. Were I to wait a few days longer, this Letter might bring you more conclusive news about some things; but there is no propriety in waiting, at such a distance as we now correspond; besides conclusion of one thing is but beginning of another: rusticus expectat: civicus [the rustic waits: the city dweller] ought to do other.2
There has no opportunity turned up of forwarding the French Revolution; the more vexatious this as Rennie3 got word of a Painter who had just gone off for Rome two days before! Rennie is still on the outlook, but with lessening hope. Nay he thinks, at bottom, no traveller would be very prudent in taking charge of a Book with such a title: the Austrian toll-men might boggle at it, and so forth. Let me hope the sheet-copy from Paris may have arrived. Fraser to whom I also spoke recommended that the Volumes should simply be wrapt up as a Parcel; addressed; and sent off from the Spread Eagle in Regent Circus: they did that the other day, he said, with certain Books for a Lord Somebody at Milan. Shall I? I will if you bid me. It is but the loss of a Copy of the Book. But perhaps the three strokes may still come; that will be best of all.
At the time I wrote last, there was a question about Mill and Articles: M. called almost the next day, and at great length unfolded his pecuniary position with regard to that Review; which Molesworth, after spending some thousands on it, quits altogether in April next, leaving it in Mill's keeping; not in a very solvent state. Many of the Articles must be gratis: from me an Article every other No. would be most acceptable, &c &c: in short, it was quite clear that here lay no bread for me; hardly salt to my bread. Meanwhile poor Mill looked dolefully anxious that I should not desert him. In brief, I answered next day that I would do that Scott, and leave the rest hanging. To work therefore: and so Scott is done (on Wednesday night last); and they profess great satisfaction with it; and—it will bring me in somewhat like £50; that is the only use of it. I have been “sharp” on Scott, “but mannerly”;4 condemnatory, commiseratory, not irreverent. I wrote in great chagrin and plague; my deaf ear made as if the half of my head had been wooden; catarrhs, November fogs like Erebus:—but in short, it is done; and my nerves are coming back to their old tone again. Whether anything and what thing more I shall do for them is uncertain, is indifferent to me. They have got a new Editor, one Robertson an Aberdeen man; a “religious radical,” and great admirer of mine: but the whole business is still an extremely despicable one; radicalism must shake off these people, if it be not itself shaken off by all good men. Fonblanque the Examiner has dwindled virtually into a nonentity and diner at Holland House;5 Buller I think is seeking place mainly (with small outlook at present); the rest are hidebound formulists, barren, bitter, loveless as the East wind. Qu'ils s'en aillent [away with them]!— But one of the most conclusive literary signs I have met with for years occurred last week: James Fraser sent for me to propose printing Teufelk and my scattered Review Articles &c in volumes! Not so long ago, all this was far as the North Pole from James's ideas. He shrieked literally at the very hint of it. And now he is willing, nay eager; there even seemed to lie money in him, if I could bring it out. No Review-puff whatsoever can come up to this. Well, I said I would consider it; and so, having considered it, and taken counsel about it with my Goody, with Miss Martineau (a very shrewd creature)6 and made up my mind, I yesterday wrote Fraser7 that there were, including Teufelk, some Five sufficient Volumes of those things; that he should have a 750 Edition of them on paying me down £50 per volume baar;8 on not paying it, not. This is the thing I alluded to as likely to settle itself if I waited a day or two. My notion of the probabilities is that Fraser will boggle, will refuse; and that therefore the thing will drop for the present: yet one cannot say. At all events, I feel decidedly as if there were no good for me in printing any more without money; being a thoroughly wearied, a half-killed man (as Mrs Jeffrey would say) “I have no wish to print.” Under fifty pounds a volume, I simply will not plague myself with it at present. Miss Martineau is importing Teufk from America by the fifty, by the five-and-twenty:9 if my repute will not spread to such extent that I can get a little victual while correcting the press, why then in Heaven's name it may take its own way,—and I also will take mine. There is nothing I am thankfuller for than to feel myself pretty well assured that neither the staying out of “fame,” nor still more the coming of it, in any quantity, can at this time [of] day do me much mischief. The liveliest image of Hell-on-Earth that I can form to myself is that of a poor bladder of a creature blown up by popular-wind; and bound to keep himself blown, under pain of torment very severe, and with torment all the while and the cracking to pieces of all good that was in him! I have looked on this close at hand; and do shudder at it as the sternest doom that can befal a Son of Adam. Let me break stones on the highway rather, and be in my own heart at peace! It is this that I reckon to be the great reward of my fierce fight of these latter years; I do feel peaceabler, and with a peace not dependent on other men or outward things but on myself: God be thanked for it, and make it grow!— There is still talk about Lecturing; which probably I shall have to try again. Some (Henry Taylor for one) will have it to be on the French Revolution: a very ticklish subject! Others vote for German again. I myself sometimes dream of a Series of Literary characters, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakspeare Cervantes, Voltaire &c.10 Ah me, I have no wish but to be silent;—not to have my nerves “dadded a' abried [shaken to pieces]” again! We shall see. I have never yet, in truth, got it steadily looked at.— But see how the sheet goes! I must escape from myself and this class of topics. Our health is no worse than it was; mine fully better, the catarrhal deafness almost gone. Jane wearies considerably of the foggy confinement, ten days together sometimes, and gets headachy towards the end of it; but she has never yet had a[ny] more cough, she continues to do well, and take care. At present she is out, in a sunny [day] of cold weather, to see Mrs John Sterling. I was to send her love, if she did not get in again before my conclusion. The Sterlings and all the rest (Maurice very fidgety and wiredrawn) go on as usual. No news from John Sterling yet: great praise of him in November Blackwood as our “new Contributor.” Satis jam [Enough of this].
A Letter from our Mother and Jenny since I wrote. She sends good reports of herself, many blessings to you (it was written on receipt of your Letter last but one), great thankfulness that you are out of the perils of cholera, and in a state of composure again. She calculates on staying in Manchester till Spring come; not a bad plan; for they seem to be very warm and snug, and to do wonderfully well together. I send always a Newspaper on Monday; and bundles of Books from time to time. Jenny is to go with her into Scotland on the return. They spoke of Rob having been over to assist at opening Alick's shop. Alick seemed one of the briskest little shopkeepers. I have written to him (on occasion of Scotsbrig oatmeal having come), I communicated to him your precept about penmanship with approval, spake what cheer I could: there is yet no reply, no tidings what the aspect of the matter is. I rather augur well.— Did you see poor James Johnston's death in the Paper? I had never heard of it, and have not yet heard much more; he had been ill for a while; he has left one child. Poor James! No innocenter man lived in the world. John Minto is dead, Mother tells me; his wife Kate was lying dead when I left that country; it was a tragical house with poverty and sorrow: how could one live if it were not for Death? Der ernste Freund [The stern companion]!— I am to write to Jean tomorrow; I have long owed them a Letter: Jean is my best correspondent in that quarter. We heard from Mrs Welsh lately; all tolerably right; lonely, no doubt, after Mrs Crichton's death. Elizabeth Fergus of Kirkcaldy is sending us a Scotch servant-lass one of these days: our present fat damsel does not please herself here, and goes off on Sunday. G.11 of Burnswark wrote to me: our half-brother John had got safe to New York, and gone into the interior; no great fear of him.
Dear Jack, it is a shining bright hour (the first this week), 2 o'clock, and I must out, with margins or with none. The essential is told. Rejoice that you are got into a tolerable kind of lodging, anchored there at any rate. If practice come, well; if not, also well; never fret your heart. Come home, and let us meet again in May! Home, sweet home; and leave all manner of Gigships, male and female, to roll as they list. Courage my brave Jack; thou art right patient really; quiet and diligent, as it beseems. Better days are perhaps beginning for us all. A great comfort I have had in thee, for one: otherwise, many a time, the Earth had seemed as good as vacant, not one mortal creature in it that could give me any help. One should be thankful to Heaven for such a Brother—People all ask for you, in fit time; I have no room to specify them. Jane still is not here. Write without delay that you can help. Take my love and brotherly blessing. Ever your affectionate
W. Fraser has never shewn face here, or sent whisper of himself hither: I doubt things go not well with him. His house is in the Dorset Square (Baker Street) region, “4. Milbury Terrace,” I think: but James Fraser knows. Heraud is still living, I saw him at the Theatre the other night; as blithe as ever. A strange wandering Rabelias [sic] Book called “the Doctor &” (by Southey)12 keeps some people talking: Heraud had a review of it in Fraser,13 admirable for getting his page filled up: he is a meritorious creature to look so blithe always, and to fill his page always the faster the cheaper they make it to him.— Twice lately I have met Crabbe Robinson: he inquired most strenuously about you; was as full of blether and wearisome incoherence as ever. I was very kind to him, but could not ask him to come and see me, in the usual mood I am in. He would drive me by and by near killing him. It was at one Crawford's (whom you know not) where we dined.14
Tom Holcroft has taken to sending me French Newspapers from Paris. Very curious in Tom. I send them forward into the interior of Scotland for most part. It is a sign, I fancy, that Tom has got his Book.15
Cavaignac comes here still, tho' seldomer; he is writing a Book,16 he is afflicted rather at my treatment of the “Seagreen”: a genuine sort of fellow however, whom I still love. Marrast is married to an English heiress;17 whom we see not at all now.
The Montagues are come to live in Westminster, Crabbe Robinson told me. I have not spoken to one of them for years. Jane and the Lady “exchange threepennies,” as you know.
Now dear Jack, here ends. The sun is threatening to grow yellower. I must out. Adieu, my boy. Write soon.