April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD ; 26 October 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18441026-TC-EF-01; CL 18: 251-252


Chelsea, 26 Octr, 1844—

Dear Fitzgerald,

I have sent your Name to the Library:1 so soon as any Committee-meeting is, your business will be completed, and Cochrane the Librarian will announce fact to you and demand money. You will find it a very real convenience, I do expect, to be admitted freely to such an extent of Book-pasturage. In regard to all but the ephemeral rubbish, which are in great demand, and which you can well dispense with, the access to Books (I believe) is very fair; certainly there are many good Books in the Collection: bad rubbish Books too you can get, French Novels &c &c in very great abundance; but you must be on the spot,—nay I believe you must even be a Lady,—for that. Do not therefore attempt that!—

You may depend upon it Dryasdust is highly gratified with the notice taken of him.2 Pray sound him, from the distance, and ascertain: I have still a great many Suffolk questions that I could ask him.— I am getting a little better with my poor Cromwell in these days; I really must have done with it, if only to save my own life. It is still very frightful,—a dark Golgotha as wide as the World; but here and there it does begin to get luminous, to get alive. Courage! I think it will be the joyfullest feat for me I ever did, when the last tatter of it is fairly shaken off my fingers, and I am free again.

One day we had Alfred Tennyson here; an unforgettable day. He stayed with us till late; forgot his stick: we dismissed him with MacPherson's Farewell.3 MacPherson (see Burns) was a Highland robber; he played that Tune, of his own composition, on his way to the gallows; asked, “If in all that crowd the MacPherson had any clansman?” holding up the fiddle that he might bequeath it to some one. “Any Kinsman, any soul that wished him well?” Nothing answered, nothing durst answer. He crashed the fiddle under his foot, and sprang off. The Tune is rough as hemp, but strong as a lion. I never hear it without something of emotion,—poor MacPherson; tho' the Artist hates to play it. Alfred's dark face grew darker, and I saw his lips slightly quivering!— He said of you that you were a man from whom one could take money; which was a proud saying, which you ought to thank Heaven for.4 It has struck me as a distinctly necessary act of legislature, That Alfred should have a Pension of £150 a year. They have £1200 every year to give away. A hundred and fifty to Alfred, I say; he is worth that sum to England! It should be done, and must.5

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle