The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 24 November 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401124-TC-JAC-01; CL 12: 334-336


Chelsea, Tuesday, 24 Novr / 1840—

My dear Brother,

Your Weymouth Letter reached me yesterday. If you accomplished your purpose for Sunday, getting to Lymington as you proposed, you must have ample means to be in Ryde at your journey's end before this reach you. I fancy you to be there perhaps even now. It gives me no little satisfaction to consider that your wandering is now over, and has settled you for a space of rest in a corner so near me. I imagine Wight to be the elegiblest of all places for passing these dim months;—not enveloped in fog, drizzle, and glar [mud], as we here; but with a fresh sea round you, with glimpses of blue sky, and some constant evidence that this Earth and her Seasons still exist. I shall be impatient to learn minutely how you are situated, what kind of house you have got &c &c.— Fraser's Books did not come hither; they are lying in his Repositories; I saw one of the bound volumes of Goethe; he was doing my Goethe and some other books of mine, and shewed it me as a specimen. If I can afford you any aid in getting books or otherwise, speak. There are two of Jean Paul's Novels here, Hesperus and Titan,1 which I think you never read: would you like to try them?

A Note from Mary, and then yesterday another from our good Mother, are my news from Annandale: I enclose them both here. My Mother speaks as if one of hers to you had been lost about Bangor? Poor body, she seems to be as well as we could expect: it is infinitely affecting to me often to think of her yonder. Tempus edax [Time the devourer]!2 We have no continuing here,3 no halt in this march of ours: on, on! Some God did make us, will assuredly provide for us what is best. One has no other anchorage; it is a frightful waste of world-devouring quick sands otherwise.

In the Annandale Barrel were twelve pairs of nice fine-spun Hawick socks from our Mother; six pairs of them for you. They are of a blue grey colour; comfortable for wearing. Yours lie in your old drawer up aloft. Would you like them sent?

My reading progresses, with or without fixed hope. I struggled thro' the Eikon Basilike yesterday: one of the paltriest pieces of vapid, shovelhatted, clear-starched, immaculate falsity and cant I have ever read. It is to me an amazement how any mortal could ever have taken that for a genuine Book of King Charles's. Nothing but a surpliced Pharisee sitting at his ease afar off could have got up such a set of “meditations.” It got Parson Gauden4 a Bishoprick; it remains as an offence to all genuine men (a small minority still) for some time yet.— The writing of that Book, if I ever write it, will be considerably the hardest feat I have attempted hitherto.

Last night, greatly against wont, I went out to dine with Rogers. Milman, Babbage, Pickwick, Lyell the Geologist5 &c with sundry indifferent-favoured women. A dull evening; not worth awakening for, at four in the morning with the dance of All the Devils round you!— Pickwick seemed to me looking wrinkly, rusty a little: he is not nothing, yet neither is he much. Babbage continues eminently unpleasant to me, with his frog mouth and viper eyes, with his hidebound wooden irony, and the acridest egoism looking thro' it. Old Rogers himself is growing deaf; is still brisk, courteous, kindly-affectioned; a good old man,—pathetic to look upon there!— I have to go out, to see after several things; perhaps to the Museum all the way. We have a glimpse of sunshine; for which let us be thankful. On Sunday I walked three hours, by Holland House, Notting Hill, and out Harrow-ward thro' the fields. It did me good. I am tolerably clad for winter this year: with a close waistcoat buttoning up single-breasted accurately to the very stock, then a thin film coat [w]hich6 I used to wear in summer, and the great-coat tight-buttoned over all [word(s) missing] [tolera]bly well, and can walk a long way when the wind serves. I [word(s) missing]ne; a great deal of solitude I find indispensable for my health of mind. The generality of men have no sincerity in their speech; no sense or profit in it: you are better listening to the inarticulate winds; regulating, if you can, the dog-kennel of your own heart!

John Sterling was to go on Friday last to Torquay, there to abide till he saw whether Italy were indispensable. W. Cunningham is wedded, and has his Wife now in Town. The old Stimabile reports of her mainly in shrugs, in turnings up of the eyes. Mrs Sterling says she will do admirably well. Why not?— I am again at the bottom of my paper. Adieu, dear Brother. Let me hear from you soon,—good news, I will hope.

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle