The Collected Letters, Volume 10


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 12 April 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18380412-TC-JAC-01; CL 10: 62-68


Chelsea, London, 12th April, 1838—

My dear Brother,— Your Letter1 came yesterday, not before I had begun to be looking for it; I answer without delay, as you announce the 15th for the last fit date. I will finish off all my correspondence today, and strike effectively, at least exclusively, into my Lectures then. It is but two days since I wrote to our Mother, whom for a fortnight prior I had mistakenly supposed to be in Annandale, and sent a Letter to, and Newspapers, directed thither; all which, and all notice of them, they left quietly lying there; till she wrote herself in great alarm, otherwise quite well, and minded to continue in Manchester till “the beginning of May.” Your Letter which I had taught her to expect will be a new gratification. The Newspaper came from you that day I wrote to her; I took the three strokes to signify that Scott had arrived; in which it now seems I have been out. Never mind: it is not a thing to do much for you if you had it; and the getting of it by and by is sure. Cavaignac, I take it, is punctual; the delay must lie somewhere beyond his beat.2 How happy that the Post is so punctual! If Letters lay, as Parcels do, above a year by the road, it would be a frightful thing to have friends in Italy. It will be all right by and by.

No news out of Annandale, except one little item of sorrowful aspect; the death of poor Mary's youngest child. It was a little Boy whom I think you never saw; an innocent-smiling “wee Wull” it was, last Autumn, as I well remember; and now I shall never see it again. In my present fragile state the thought produces more impression on me than it might. I am sorry for the sorrow of poor Mary: Poverty, Toil and Death, and the poor innocent wersh [weak] smile of poor “wee Wull”;—ah me, it is so the world is made! I mean to write to Mary also today. They have got no farm yet, at least none that I can hear of; but it seems or seemed there is still some not distant hope of Stenniebeck. I transmitted your message to them. Of Alick no tidings whatsoever; except once a Newspaper apparently in his hand. James Aitken had been at Manchester in the way of his traffic; and reported all to be moderately well. They have let Craigenputtoch again, to Macadam, his offer being higher than Macqueen's: the House is to stand vacant, I fancy, and rot slowly of its own accord.3 We offered it to the tenant whoever he might be for £10; but lower, no, the word was “rot and no fash.” Macadam is to surrender the Park for £10 when we like; I had to write, twice, about it: Accidente al Papa [Curse the Pope]! Let it rot then. The rent he pays in all, I think, is some £190. Mrs Welsh talks of perhaps going to Liverpool for a while. She is very lonely at Templand now, Mrs Creichton4 being gone; her Letters are quite congealed in frost, of late months.

About the end of March, Jane threatened to begin coughing again; but happily that seems gone now; and as the weather does begin to grow vernal, and she gets out almost daily, I hope the brunt of the malady is over for one year. She keeps very quiet, and suffers what is inevitable as well as possible; I fancy Italy, as you say, might be of real service to her. To me also the one thing needful seems that of getting into any tranquil region under or above the sun. Positively at times the whirl of this dusty deafening chaos gets into the insupportable category. There is a shivering palpitancy in me, which makes emotion of any kind a thing to be shunned.5 It is my nerves, my nerves: the poor chaos is bad enough; but with nerves one might stand it. We shall have a grand consultation when you come; all will be in some measure before us then. There are symptoms of capability to grow a lion6 by and by: Fluch DEM [Curse it]! Good never lay there, lie where it might. Also I imagine it possible I might learn to subsist myself here; earning the small needful of money,—literally with my heart's blood. You can fancy it; with such a nervous-system as I have: the beautiful and brave saying in their sumptuousity here and there, “O Thomas what an illustrious character thou art!”—and Thomas feeling in his heart for comfort, and finding bilious fever; in his pocket, and finding emptiness; round him for fellowship, and finding solitude, ghastly amid grinning masks! But on the whole I do adhere to one thing, that of holding my peace. I really am better too, in the inward heart of me; there is no danger of a man, I feel always, while his heart is not mad. So let us hold on,—thro' these Lectures at any rate; for that is the nearest duty.7 I must tell you moreover that I have got the American edition of the F. Rn; a most respectable gilt book, in two volumes, whh they sell at 2 dollars,8 and were getting rapidly away with in Yankee land (1000 printed, 500 sold forthwith); nay, by Emerson's calculation whom I heard from since you heard, there was to be some £150 of profit realized for the Author! The Review Articles are out, I suppose, and calculated for a similar result. We shall be very glad of it. Emerson says, the young men in America exclaimed &c &c; the old men shook their heads, and knew not what to exclaim. Southey the Poet, whom I saw here lately, proposes to read the Book over “six times,” which I fancy you will think is enough.9 To finish the business, I saw Fraser lately, and frightened him much; without result. He had been behaving in a knavish way about that Teufelsk; clearly knavish. He thinks he has some 240 copies of the Revn still on hand:10 it did not sell at all, he says, for two months, and then it began, and goes on; but the trade in the Row11 always think it may quite easily fall off again, and so never order above a copy or two at a time. I daresay poor James was speaking truth. For the rest I required his ultimate word about that Review Publication, what he would give. He promised to write it, but has not written it, tho' the time is past and doubly-past. My interior conviction is that I shall never get any good of him, that I must seek another Bookseller. Worthy Mr Erskine proposes that I should entrust the matter to a Brother-in-law of his here;12 whom he is to bring to meet me on Monday next. By the time the Lectures are over, we must really have an arrangement, and shall be able to make one, I think. Enough of it now.— The Lectures were first announced in the Newspapers yesterday:13 I have been among Tickets and Programs ever since; but have that over now. There are to be twelve lectures, two a-week; the first on Monday April 30th, the last somewhere about the 11th of June. They make me shudder; but I will try not to shudder. I will do whatever I can by writing; but one cannot read part and speak part, it destroys the impetus for speech when you stop to read: speaking too is decidedly the favourite way with all. I have been very busy, especially with the first three lectures, on Greek and Roman things, where I had rusted greatly. I have read Thucydides, Herodotus; part of Niebuhr, Michelet &c,14—the latter two with small print and much disappointment, the former two not. I will say something; I should have several good things to say and do very well, were I in health, were I in brass. My rule is, Dinna gang to dad tysel' a' abreed [Don't shake yourself to pieces]. Courage! I hope to be over with it about the time you arrive; and then[!]

Yesterday I waited on your Dr Thomson;15 found him at home, could not pay him, having [gone] out without cash; nor could he fix any hour or day for this week when I should be likely to meet him. Indeed he seemed anxious to come to me rather; so I left him a card with invitation; he is not to leave London again he says, but to settle here: the £6"10 shall be paid him therefore with no delay. He is a cleverish-looking man, the type of his face like that of Editor Lockhart's; with an Irish accent, I thought. Going thro' the Green Park, I saw her little Majesty [Queen Victoria], taking her bit of departure for Windsor. I had seen her another day at Hyde Park Corner coming in from the daily ride. She is decidedly a pretty-looking little creature; health, clearness, graceful timidity looking out from her young face; “frail cockle on the black bottomless deluges,” one could not help some interest in her, as in a sister situated as mortal seldom was. The crowd yesterday, some two thousand strong, of loungers and children, uttered no sound whatever, except a kind of thin-spread interjection “Aihh!” from the infantile part of it; one old Flunkey in tarnished laced hat was the only creature I saw salute, he got a bow in return all to himself. Poor little victory!— In the evening we had the Scotts, by volunteer engagement on their part; and then I had to go to a Bullerian rout, having refused a dinner there the day before: Mrs Martineau,16 “dear Mrs Rigmarole the distinguish female, great Mr Rigmarole the distinguished male”!17 Radical Grote18 was the only novelty, for I had never noticed him before. A man with strait upper lip, large chin and open mouth (spout mouth); for the rest, a tall man, with dull thoughtful brows and lank dishevelled hair: greatly the look of a prosperous dissenting minister. Roebuck19 was there; shrunk almost into invisibility, with rheumatism and political chagrin: small-beer run sour. I am to dine with little Milnes this night: I had refused him for years, and could not help myself.20 I will go out no more, I think, till the Lectures end. Two weeks ago I was driven nearly mad with partying, till I struck work, till it chanced to abate, and I said “What's ta use on't?”— Jeffrey is here at present; he comes whisking down from time to time; very brisk one would say: he and I fight from behind covered casemates now. He asked after you with seeming affection. Poor little fellow, I have [a] kind of liking for him still.21 Lady Louis is gone to Malta, with her Husband, a naval man.22 C. Buller gets £1500 a year for going to Canada with Durham. John Sterling's news are again good; he is expected here in May. I had a Letter from Glenn;23 mad as possible; beautiful stuff all gone to confusion: poor fellow!— Enough now of this gossip, which might last far!

A stream of insipid visiters [sic], Sandy Donaldson24 &c &c have kept me babbling in perfect idleness for nearly 3 hours! Jane had taken a headache and gone to bed. I must finish now, and get out tel quel [somehow]. The Courier is come; you will get it tomorrow. You do not say what I am to do with it after the 15th. I will send it yet another time to Rome; and what can I do after? I can think of no plan. Probably you will indicate by a Diario, or in some way, if possible? At worst the Paper can be lost with little damage.— Your notions about Rome for us, and all the rest you say, are in their vagueness quite analagous to mine in theirs. Jane takes very kindly to your scheme of Italy.25 As for me, I know only that I should infinitely rejoice to be quiet anywhere. I think I will not stay here to have the brain burnt out of me; I will go out of this! Jane likes it far better than I: indeed were it not she, I might quite easily cut and run before long; which at bottom I admit were perhaps not good for me. Nothing can be determined as yet; you have it in your head much as I have it. You will write without loss of time. Adieu dear Brother! God be with you!

T. Carlyle

No margins! It wants only a quarter to 3 o'clock; also last night I was the “victim of green tea”; and this night again!— If you go thro' Bologna do not neglect to call for the Contessa degli Antony,26 and give her our remembrances: you will not repent going if you have time. Pepoli is appointed Professor; after endless efforts he has carried it;—poor fellow, and what is it? A little, and little else. He was greatly preferred to all the rest. Leigh Hunt was made Editor of a sinking Periodical:27 it has sunk in these days; and now he tells me he is writing a Play!28— I met W. Fraser one day in the Park; very unstaid-looking; not at all happy. “Affairs just about settled” &c &c: I am afraid there is little hope of him. Maginn, he told me, was at Boulogne, flying from Creditors; sunk in gin and woe.29 Eheu [Alas]!

I gave Mrs Irving's man some letters to Germany; and now I learn that he is proceeding thither as an “Angel,” and not otherwise!30 It is no matter.

I finish here, dear Jack; time having finished. Be well, write to me, and come to me.—TC.

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