The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON; 21 November 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18501121-TC-LA-01; CL 25: 290-291


Chelsea, 21 Novr, 1850—

Dear Lady,—I wish we heard again that you were actually well; there was the best hope when Lord A.'s word came; but then it stops, and the fulfillment questionable still. Surely he would have written had matters not gone well?— And you have abruptly turned us out of the Book-trade too,—in which truly we succeeded very ill;—and no tidings of any kind come.

Croucher, when his Mittimus arrived, had a Suetonius actually lying at Bath House, ready to start for eight-and-forty hours preceding; he had even found his own copy, and that too was, and is ready: but the Mittimus came; he took all back, and retired disconsolate (I believe, for I have never seen him since) into the interior of his shell again. Nor will the Map come till Lord A. write a word for it; the Housekeeper is to let it lie till then. And Col. Maberly gives no sign farther; is “giving every attention” to that Sophocles, I believe,—and may make himself a nightcap of it if he like. Truly we have been unfortunate in the Book-trade, this time. And perhaps made too much fuss about it withal? Whereupon her Ladyship dismissed us; bought a Suetonius for herself,—or perhaps only the polite myth of a Suetonius,—and so had peace at any rate? Unfortunate that we are!— But tell us you are well at least,—or indeed at most, for there cannot from any quarter be better news.

We have got into a very peaceable train here; and I do not even find the dark muddy weather an unkindness to me. It sweeps the streets much clearer; I have thick gutta-percha shoes, and can all the better enjoy my own sombre thought amid the rain. How inexpressibly annoying human beings Can be to one another! It is pity they would not be more considerate; the accords might be sorted out, surely, and combined to melodies: alas, in this huge soul-confusing Dissonance there does creep, trodden out of hearing, such a Sphere-Harmony withal! To be got at in Heaven, I suppose; not handily in this world, in these revolutionary epochs. Let us be patient nevertheless.

For these last two days, thanks to rigorous avoidance of all noise and confusion, I seem to feel (if I durst) a little better,—healthier in all respects: but how can I hope that it will last? “Let it not last, then, but cease!” is what I have to say in such cases; and study the duty of keeping down the lid at any rate. I am still idle; looking merely at the heights, and sauntering hither and thither still on the level ground. Not right, not proper at all!— I read Ménagiana of nights:1 a feeble, but lucid, innocent, rather curious old Book; shews me extinct generations of Theologians, Savans, Beaux-Esprits [Wits], so many Nublés, Naudés, Barsavades, Boisroberts,2—once flowery leafy brilliancies and verdancies, gone all to black peat now: the universal lot of things. “As we are now, so you shall be,”—and only the soul of you and your work (if you or it had any soul) can hope to endure!— — When your good genius inspires, will you not write a word before long?——

Yours ever, /

T. Carlyle