The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 10 August 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400810-TC-JAC-01; CL 12: 221-224


Chelsea, 10 August, 1840—

My dear Brother,

Your Letter1 lay waiting me here on my return on Saturday; I had heard word of it from Jane in the course of my travels. For my “travels,” as you are to understand, have actually taken place, and been accomplished, tho' not entirely in the way anticipated at first. Cavaignac, when the day came, could not go. Curious enough: he had anticipated a horse from one Montauban,2 a noisy Buonapartist Colonel of his acquaintance, who was bound in those very days “for Paris”; but it turned out that the horse could not be spared. And now it strikes me as most probable that this same loud Buonapartist may be one of those who accompanied Louis Napoleon on his late onslaught against the windmills at Boulogne;3 that he probably took his horse with him, and that both he and it are now lying safe in the keeping of Louis Philippe of the Orleans branch of Bourbons, King of the French or Citizen-King!4 So strangely are world-history and parish-history interwoven. Montauban was a man mad enough for such a windmill expedition. He threatened once to call here; where I did not want him, where I shall probably now never see him. He one day met Lord Something or other whose brother had suddenly died a few days before; mistaking the personal identity, Montauban exclaimed with astonishment: “Quoi, Monsieur? Mon Dieu, vous n'êtes pas mort, vous voilà [What, Sir? My God, you are not dead, there you are]!”— Enough, Cavaignac did not go; nor at bottom did I much regret it.

I set off on Sunday gone a week; to Leatherhead where the Bullers live; meaning thence to go to Herstmonceux, on the Sussex coast, where Julius Hare lives, to whom I had written proposing it; from whom I had of old an invitation. The weather was sultry, dusty; I should rather say, windy and fiery. I would have given five guineas to desist and stay at home; but I could not for very shame I went off with my Mackintosh in fronth [sic], my saddle valise behind; pocket full of maps, cigars and et-ceteras; my heart very much in the mood of Attila Schmelzle's,5 I believe;—right against the teeth of the blazing sun. And so I rode for a week all but some hours. I staid in the Bullers' neighbourhood till wednesday morning; mounting Leith Hill, scouring the beautiful lanes, villages and hill tops all round that region; waiting for Hare's answer which the cross-posts had delayed. Fortified at last with this document, I took the uplands for Riegate [sic] and the South, on Wednesday morning early: I had slept little or none the night before; I was in such mood as you may fancy. I rode all day; finding about eventide no reasonable-looking inn, I rode on, and on, till Sussex was getting all asleep, and the very moon had sunk: finally after the stroke of ten I did find Herstmonceux Rectory, and was welcomed with both hands by the good Julius;—much to my mind, for I was well wearied by that time; having come, I fancy, something like fifty miles in spite of the ardours of the sun. I staid here one full day and the two nights: on friday morning, Hare had to go and preach at Thirlwall's episcopation; I rode off too, directly after him, by another route,—that of Mayfield, Tunbridge Wells &c; I slept, or rather did not sleep at Seven Oaks6 a pleasant town in Kent; got home next day by Dulwich (flying the dust-torrent of the white hot glaring highway); found all right here about two o'clock; & so have lain perdue doing little but rest myself ever since. Thank Heaven, the tour is over. Many things dwell with me from it: the Weald of Sussex, Jack Cade's and the Norman Conquerors Country, the green chalk Hills, pleasant villages, good people, and yellow corn: it is all, in my preternatural sleepless mood, like a Country of miracle to me.7 I feel it strange that it is there, that I am here! Want of faculty to sleep determines, more than all else, the conditions of such an adventure for me. Ah me, what unutterable deeps of mournful reverie, as you plod along thro' this fair earth, which for you will never be a home! I struggled to talk with all manner of peasants and the like: they are good people; their life for most part more supportable than I have seen it elsewhere. Hare has a noble library, a tastefully decorated house and life; wholly like a bit of beautiful crockery, fine but fragile. Bunsen's bust stood among many busts. His Sister-in-law (Hare's) joined us to dinner; a schöne Seele [beautiful Soul], not without gaiety of humour too.8 We saw Pevensey five miles off where William Bastard landed; I would right fain have plunged in the sea; but it was five miles off thro' Pevensey Marsh; my own horse I wished to rest, there was no other convenient that day, and in the furnace heat I could not walk. Finally here we are once more, dear Brother; I do not regret that I went, I rejoice that I am home,—and will waste no more paper talking about it today.

William Marshall to whom I offered the present of my horse cannot take it; he will send a servant for it any day, sell it and give me the money. I feel decidedly as if I should be rid of the beast. James Fraser talked of buying it; I mean this day to speak to him on the matter. Perhaps I shall manage without troubling Marshall. I think before we get another horse, we must be a little richer, and then it should include “a fly too to take you out at night,”9 and the riding on it reduce itself to a constitutional jogtrot on occasion! We shall see by and by.— Or perhaps if James Fraser do not take this Citoyenne I may still keep her till I have done with my two Lectures, and then send her a-walking somewhither? The weather is of the hottest; were it not for these outer blinds I should find this house uninhabitable: walking till towards sunset is a thing one cannot attempt.

Tomorrow morning, however, in one fashion or another, I am to begin these last two Reports. The former four are worth nothing; yet I will finish. They may then lie till after my autumn movements are over; the dust all laid, we shall then see more clearly what they are, what can be made of them. Fraser will venture no money; I am not in want of money: we need not stir either way on that account.

There has come nothing but a Newspaper out of Dumfriesshire. I am to write to my Mother or some of them today. I have had American Letters, nichts-bedeutend [nothing important]; visitors ditto. A blockhead10 fires off at me from Pesth in the Eastern regions of Europe11 a Letter about Sclavonic History books,—having seen from the Newspapers my speech about a London Library! I seal up his ass of a letter again, decline to pay 1/4 for it; and reflect on the stupidity of mortals. Many fools fire at me now:12 one has to do like Baron von Eichthal with Sawyers holding his button; cut the fool off, in a gentle manner, with the edge of your hand!— In ten days now, it will have to be decided what you are farther to do. If you turn out to be free when the Lectures are done, some three or four weeks hence, we might meet somewhere; but without some ulterior plan I cannot altogether wish you to be free. I have some notion of a sail to Dundee, where Thomas Erskine lives, very desirous to see me. I long for the breath of the sea. A clear running river even would do me good. I applaud your rowing and your bathing. Farewell dear Brother for this day. Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle