August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO LADY HARRIET BARING; 9 January 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470109-TC-LHB-01; CL 21:130-131.


Chelsea, 9 jany, 1847—

What is this that you tell us about influenzas and sofas? I pray you alter that Bulletin as soon as possible! And understand generally that you are not to place yourself, even by Hudson's1 order, in draughts by the side of the railway, in fierce frost; or to run about as if you were the Czar of all the Russias, instead of being what you are! All people, in this bitter winter, have to take care of themselves; even I, usually indifferent to temperatures, have been obliged to mount double clothing, and have suffered nevertheless.

Today I will leave at Stanhope-Street a Cicero's Letters and Life; which they will send to you; which you are welcome to keep for ten years, or forever if you like it. The Translation is English; Middleton's; by far the best, I believe, in any modern language.2 If, for some reason or none, you prefer a French one, tell me, and I will act upon “Croucher” (poor Croucher),3 or otherwise procure it. Or does this Middleton perhaps hurt your eyes? I can, without any difficulty, get you a Middleton in larger type, I believe. So much for Cicero, since you will honour him with a reading. About a week ago I left you, for Newyear's Gift, a poor little Book of my own, just republished.4 The two will probably come together.

Alas, there is no hope for us on Monday,—God knows when there is! Mrs C. is still very feeble; never ventures even downstairs: we live in the Library place, which is only a step from her own room and fire; I have banished myself aloft to a little dressing-closet, about 8 feet square, in the rear of the house; where I sit, with fire-screen and desk, extremely quiet; hearing only the distant groan of London and the world; looking out over little gardens, sooty trees, chimney-tops and smoke, in the distance (even if it were clear weather) nothing but St. James's steeple in Piccadilly and the cross of the top of St. Paul's. I see hardly anybody this long while; read nothing but Acta Sanctorum (old Monk Legends and Chronicles), 5—their platitude, bottomless but sincere, is a little less disgusting to me than that of most modern Books. To avoid going almost mad, I am obliged to keep silent as a stone. Of you I think as of the beautifullest creature in all this world; divided from me by great gulphs forevermore. These are my “Fog Thoughts”; Thoughts in the great wintry Fog of London, and of Life. There is a certain joy in them too; a real blessedness, as of Immortality itself. But silence is one of the conditions of it; therefore——

Adieu my gracious Lady: get well again forthwith, and keep well. My Wife, I expect, will let you know soon what is to be predicted of our Hampshire journey:6 Get you well again! There or here I am ever yours

T. Carlyle