October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 3 May 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460503-TC-JAC-01; CL 20: 185-188


Chelsea, 3 May, 1846—

Dear Brother,

On friday night last I began a Letter to you; but had proceeded only the length of the second sentence, when the entrance of Darley, followed very soon by that of Alfred Tennyson and Moxon, and in a few minutes more by that of Anthony Sterling put a hopeless stop to the enterprise! They sat till past 11; talking in a wide-flowing very desultory way. With puffs of tobacco too. Alfred looks haggard, dim and languid: they have got him however to go and draw his Pension;1 that is reckoned a great achievement on the part of his friends! Surely no man has a right to be so lazy in this world;—and none that is so lazy will ever make much way in it, I think! Darley has been in France all this while; about Paris &c, “gathering strength”; is the same old gasping ingenious well-meaning miserable man. He asked very kindly after you; as many do.— Old Sterling is now gone over to live with Anthony: he has had another attack in late weeks; looked altogether worn and broken when I saw him above a fortnight since.— Espinasse, after poking about on the surface of Literary work here for a while, in a rather hopeless-looking way, has decided to try Lecturing in Lancashire (which I too recommended as eligibler for him), and has gone home to Edinburgh to prepare. This is the most of what I know about your acquaintances here: Cochrane in the Library said, “Many were asking after you; where you were, what you” &c.— Christie, I should add, writes me the other night of good prospects with a “natural son of Lord Byron's” who is about writing his Father's Life: I hope it may turn to something!2 Meanwhile C's best outlook seemed to me the fact that he was getting a little Medical Practice, Midwifery &c, and had actually £14 in the Savings Bank! There is small fear of Christie.—

I have now got nearly quite done with my part in the Cromwell; and the Printers too are dashing along with great rapidity,—undertaking to have done by the middle of May. We will say end of May; and be very glad too.

American Putnam has been here; a small, longheaded, thin-necked intelligent Man, and very modest for a Yankee. He, after much apologetic preambling which he would not cut short, undertook at length with all clearness of statement to accept the second Edition of Cromwell on the terms specified by Emerson; and also,—as preparatory for farther operations,—to account to me for all the Copies already sold of the First, on the same terms which I of course told him was abundantly satisfactory. He then proceeded to offer still the same terms (ten-percent on the selling-price of every Copy) for three other Books of mine, the F. Revolution, Sartor and Heroes, provided I would read them over for their Yankee Printer, and say I had done so and authorized him! Which of course I was very willing to do, in so far as Emerson, who knew all my American affairs, should pronounce me free from engagements with other Booksellers to that length. So Emerson is written to; and I suppose will answer Yea,—and so we are like to have a piece of work there too; and I suppose there may some considerable money come out of all that in the course of time.3 For which too let us be thankful!

Indeed I am rather on the prospering hand this year otherwise so far as money goes. Chapman was here yesterday to settle about a new Edition of Heroes and the Miscellanies for the English Market: we have not yet come to close quarters about the monies there; but I will make him do what is just and handsome if I can.— All these things are a wonderful change when we think of ten or seven years back! It is really a blessing and deliverance not to be haunted by the base Terror of Beggary any more;—a considerable deliverance: but farther I do not see that it goes; and masses of money in any quantity would really now not be of any use to me at all. I do thank Heaven I have got entirely above that poor region of things; and do not value it, one way or the other! When I think of Hudson's Memorial, and look at the scrambling all the world carries on, I find that this too is a great deliverance; perhaps the greatest of all!— By the bye are you aware that Hudson lives in one of those Tower Houses (the white monsters) at Albert Gate, Knightsbridge? The old stone stags that used to be in Piccadilly are brought up thither, which has given rise to some bad wit here and there.4 I am told poor Hudson is one of the ugliest things you can see in a summer day: a big-bellied, swoln-faced, waddling hushel [sloven]; “with little arms like fins,” says Charles Buller; and not a word of sense, or hardly even of grammar, to be got out of him:—this is for the present the English Almighty; and I am very glad indeed that they are doing a Memorial to him; I hope they will make it very high, that all men may the better know what they are and what he is!—

Our visit ended fully about a fortnight ago; and we have now at last got very gentle weather too:—pretty well both of us. I have my horse, getting into excellent order; and go riding pretty duly: but we have put him into one of the Nodes Carriages too where with a good driver he goes very well;—and I mean that Jane shall have fully the half of him, and take him off my hands, while he continues here. It is a terrible expense; which I grudge not a little: but I think it does do my health some small perceptible good; and so the horse and opportunity being here, I am willing not quite to reject it.

How is my dear good old Mother? I wish you would write me with all minuteness about her. The good weather, I hope, will now do her good. Jamie too, I am always glad to hear what he is about, to get some image to myself of Scotsbrig. I hope he comes early home when he happens to be out! Really whatever may be said or sung, it is a decided duty lying on a man. The curse of Drink is literally that of the Devil in these times.— Yesterday there came a well-dressed woman walking with three children forward to Battersea Bridge.5 It appears she was a House-Painter's Wife; it is thought had been drinking, quarrelling with her Husband in consequence, who in his just rage had said “Might I never see your face again!” The wretched woman, in delirium tremens or some such horror of nerves and mind, walked to the middle of the Bridge; pitched all her children over into the river,—somebody noticed the third as she threw it over: she herself was laid hold of, but none of the children could be saved!6— Did you ever hear of such a horror and abomination? What is there in Hell, by whatever name we call it, that could do worse to a human creature than Gin has here done? The name of the Chief Devil at this time is Gin!— Which I hope none of us will ever have any concern with except in its just and altogether indisputably just place. Much better to err on the inside than on the out as to that.—

I have had a Photograph done of me, and sent it off to Emerson: they have very much improved that affair since you used to be at it. This seems to me very successful indeed. Jane has a Copy,—properly another and better Original. I have fully determined to sit again for one to my Mother: I hope it will be ready against next Magazine day.

You are not very well. I hope the clear weather will induce you to more activity, which I suppose to be the chief remedy— Poor Robby Irving!7— Do you know how fond of you Paulet is?— My blessings on my Mother and you all!

Adieu / T.C.

Espinasse left a small pasteboard case with two bits of Books in it for you: also a Pamphlet.— This should have been sent last night, but was not.— — Take my Mother out a drive.

I suppose you are writing to Alick at present? I sent him a Note last time too—