The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 12 October 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401012-TC-JAC-01; CL 12: 284-286


Chelsea, 12 Octr, 1840—

My dear Brother,

I hasten to fire off half a word at you, now that I know whither to aim. The thought that you have come and are still coming nearer is very agreeable to the fancy; tho' I regret much that you had not been able to run off for a single day to let my Mother see you. It is perhaps at bottom “just as well”!1 At all events, it cannot be helped. Our Mother will be very sorry; but we could do nothing for her this year, the good Mother. Indeed she is so feeble now, I sometimes think the flurry of a visit from us does her ill as well as good. Ah me!

Not a syllable of news has reached me from the Homeland since you last heard: weekly Courier announcing that nothing is wrong; this, with two Newspapers for you, in James Aitken's hand, is all.2 One of the latter I directly forwarded to Stirling, where probably it still lies; the other (also a Herald), which has arrived just now, I despatch to Bangor. You get also today a Tablet, the new Catholic Newspaper which they forward always to me,—I skipping dextrously all their Catholicities, a thing infinitely wearisome to me: this No contains some notice, which was new to me on Saturday night, of a hurlyburly the Radical Editors have been making over Sewell my Quarterly Reviewer.3 You can forward it to Jean at Dumfries when you have done with it.

We are flitting [moving] today, in the very act of shifting upstairs. My desk now, and self at present, are in your old quarters the front room below;—pasting of the door &c is still to do; and I hear Jane's hammer diligently going overhead. It makes me wae to look at the suddenly contracted room, and think of you and last winter! Es konnte nimmer seyn [It can never be]! But what is all the Past but “a burial-aisle”?——— They have brought down the Bookpress from the upper story4 (the mahogany press you remember), and set into the recess between mantelpiece and front wall where it fits very well, to hold my special Books, with which I am very busy. I have borrowed a huge stock, Rushworths, Whitlocke's &c &c from one Forster, all about Puritanism and Cromwell; I am even buying a few. My work thro' winter is to be studying and re-studying that business: if I get any direct clear insight I will write about it; if not, not. Meanwhile the search, tho' amid mountains of shot rubbish, gets more and more entertaining. I have bought a capital Atlas of England that of Walker; you had some of the county-maps, last year, on your travels:5 I wanted a Scotch Atlas, but despair of getting any good one for a while.— My poor inner man is and continues wofully bilious; otherwise I complain of nothing, and feel much quieter than I once did.

Cavaignac is gone to France, perhaps thence to Algiers, several weeks ago; we had seen little of him for the last six months; he seemed to have some trade-speculation in hand, and perhaps did not care to let us know of it. His manner of departing finally was by what they call “French leave,” a cold scrawl of a Note sent hither some days after he was gone. I never distinctly saw the force of that phrase before; which Mazzini informs me is Italian too: I suppose it must lie in the French blood, that habit.

Mill is in some distress about his Young Brother, a fine modest wise boy of 15, who looks only 12; whom Clarke has ordered him to send to Devonshire for a bad cough that will not go away. Mill knows nobody at Torquay;6 was thinking of this and of that: I told him, or rather sent word to him, that you were going to Wight or that region: I have no doubt you would keep an eye upon the poor lad, if he were boarded any where within your reach? Till Mill speak in return, if at all, you need not mind it. Perhaps the place itself will not do. Mill will ask nothing unreasonable; and he and his Brother are worth obliging.— By what path do you come southward? Over the top of Snowdon and Pendennis, by Chepstow Castle and the banks of the Wye? Write frequently. Be well and happy.

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle