April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 9 June 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490609-TC-JAC-01; CL 24: 61-63


Chelsea, 8 [9] june, 1849—

My dear Brother,

We have had two very short Notes from you, since you quitted us that afternoon: thanks for them,—in the absence of longer! Nothing in the least remarkable has passed here in the interim; but I must write you a word today, or you will have left Nottingham before anything can reach you. I have been sitting to a Painter,1 and have got a headache, as well as lost most part of the available day; I was out yesterday at Darwin's to a miserable dinner (being quite ill before I went), then to a miserable Lecture from Lyell,2 and before that to &c &c so that I am in no [way?] for writing,—not to speak of the condition of my pen, sputtering as you see it do:—be prepared therefore to take the will for the deed, as is so often necessary in this world.

I have continued my Irish studies, in the same abstracted fashion as before you went; have got my Map, especially, from the Binder; and feel myself slowly gathering some glimmerings of intelligence and interest about that unfortunate Island. My purpose to proceed thither still holds, tho' not yet in a quite definite condition; Forster now cannot go with me, will join me &c (which will not suit half as well); I think of going direct by steamer from this Port to Dublin,—next “Thursday at 10 a. m.,” or Thursday come aweek? The latter is the more probable of the two. Nay Aubrey de Vere writes to me today that I ought to wait till the cholera have abated, for in some of the most interesting districts that is very prevalent just now.3 I think of Duffy for a first companion;—to him I must write a note, had I done with this presently on hand. The best advice I expect to get tomorrow from Twistleton,4 who is appointed for that purpose: he came here, one day since you went; we talked of many things, but postponed our Tour speculation till “Sunday at 2 o'clock.” Alas, my appetite for travel, or for any earthly enterprise or work, is close upon zero, or altogether zero, at this moment! However, I must not leave it there; l feel withal that I ought to go and that I must go. God help me! Amen; let all the friends that I have left say, Amen.

Twistleton seems to me, as he has long done, a particularly honest faithful and worthy man. One of the things he spoke of was your Dante; inquiring if that Carlyle was “my cousin”; testifying farther, with heartfelt emphasis, to the solid value and honourable completeness of that work; in which sentiment I could not but agree with him. More genuine praise I think I have not heard you get, than from this rather inarticulate man: “Hm-m-m, very well done, hm-m, excellent style of doing the work, m-m-m, brings Dante home to you, mhm,-m-m!” &c &c

The Painter who is doing me in miniature is one Carrick; a dextrous ingenious veracious-looking little body; sent hither by Frewen (one of my Cromwell Correspondents), or rather, I should say, admitted by Frewen's means, for he is painting with an eye to engravers, I believe, and eagerly picks up all the faces that promise to avail in that direction. Jane encourages, says he will evidently succeed. He comes down hither, every morning; wearies me, I must say, very much. He is from Carlisle City; and was a “Chemist” once: more like poor Badams than anybody I have seen.5

Forster will be ready for you on Monday,6 as probably you knew before now. I want much to hear from Scotsbrig; fear this headache will not let me write thither today.— We got your Emerson Note: En writes hither, announcing what speedily followed, a heavy Barrel of Indian Corn in the shape of grain (without the internal waste substance), whereby the quantity of corn sent is greatly increased. This also has arrived in the most perfect state of freshness: inclosed in it, moreover, is a small bag of Indian meal or flour, about a stone of it; perfectly fresh that too, pure golden meal (most beautiful to look on), part of which is to be cooked this day for the mutton of dinner. If we had a miller now, we should prosper in the Indian-corn direction: but where to find a miller? The Croydon Miller too, employed by the Ashburtons, has produced a distinctly sensible addition of sand; and will not answer. It is very provoking not to know how so simple a service is to be attained in the centre of the world's business: amazing poverty from excess of wealth! At Ecclefechan I could get it done; in London I believe I cannot.

We shall probably hear from you again on Monday morning? You will get this tomorrow early, and have leisure to write one of us a word. At all events, from Rawdon, where there will be ample space to turn within. And if there is anything you want me to do here before I go, certainly I shall be very ready.

Commend me to the excellent Neuberg;7 and say, if I had not such a set of nerves, and such a clay dwellingplace and life-workshop generally, how glad I should feel to be on the road to Newstead8 also!

Jane is down stairs; and if not writing her own compliments to you, will be very glad that I send them. Your kindness to her during this last season has greatly advanced you in her regard and gratitude; nor am I quite blind on that side perhaps, tho' hitherto silent. Alas, I have to be silent about innumerable things, about all things; my whole existence often seems to me a kind of infinite silence,—not quite easy to live in at all times. Good be with you, dear Brother.

Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle