The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 5 February 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410205-TC-JAC-01; CL 13: 29-30


Chelsea, 5 Feby, 1841—

My dear Brother,

Yesterday you had as brief a Line as might be. Today also you must be satisfied with very little.

I have been terribly taken up with various things. First, with electing a Librarian. Cochrane, not without very considerable industry on our side of the house, has carried it. I judged his appointment to be an important matter; the final signal for my washing my hands of it,—leaving it in his, as in good hands. Cochrane comes to take possession on the 17th. At the earliest possible day there will then be a General Meeting summoned (probably, alas, not till after Ladyday1 when we get a house); I then formally resign my shadow of Secretaryship, and withdraw, to let the whole matter sink or swim. No good can be done without somebody's taking trouble; I am one of the somebodies on this occasion: I must not grudge.

Secondly, Proofsheets have much occupied me. We are now far into the second Lecture: the First needed very heavy correction; paragraphs to be added &c: twice I sat a whole day; sometimes like the cooking of a cucumber, after getting something all ready with great labour, I flung it out of window, as the best course! We are thro' all that now, in tolerable fashion. I find these Lectures not so bad a thing. Nothing new in them for me; but much like to be new enough for many others. Puseyism,2 many other Isms that have hailed me Brother, will find now that I am fatal to them, or they to me. Be it so. I am here only to speak; nor have I been in any hot haste to speak.— This morning I wrote for two Perfect-Copies of every sheet: one for you, one for America. You will probably get three or four together. Take care of them; that you may bind them up, and make your Presentation Copy of them! Fraser the dog allows me only a dozen in all; and many people, with some right, expect copies from me.

Besides all this, Teufelsdk goes on, and with great rapidity. Him I print according to the printed copy, and correct only with pencil, a comma or so in the page.— Nay Saunders and Otley, the Blockheads, threaten to get into a kind of controversy, as if they had some shadow of right to this Second Edition too!3 One Letter I wrote them about a week ago, full of the choicest politeness (in fact I had, unintentionally, neglected a piece of good manners to them): today there comes a new Note from them still harping on the old thing; this I have just answered with brevity, not without pungency. The Absurdities Incarnate!

You see how I am situated! Last night I went to Milman's,4 to his antique sumptuosities in the Cloisters of Westminster. It was the price he demanded for voting in Cochrane's favour! Our dinner strove to be brilliant: not with entire success: Whewell, Fanny Kemble (Butler) and her American Husband,5 with etceteras,— Milman himself a shrewd Oxford wit, with considerable sharpness, with considerable desire to shine. The dinner expanded itself, in due time, into a Soiree; highdressed women beautiful and not, sitting circularly on a huge round Ottoman, back to back, by way of centre; miscellaneous flood of male stagers, old and young, flowing all round. Ut mos est [As the custom is].6 Not interesting to me. I left it at 11 o'clock, while they were still arriving.

Till this horrid frost abate at any rate, there can be no thought of travelling! Were the Sun out again I should really like to see the country for a day or two.

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle