The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 28 September 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510928-TC-JAC-01; CL 26: 188-190


Hôtel Maurice, Rue de Rivoli, Paris, 28 Septr, 1851—

My dear Brother,

Here I am safe enough, if not in the best of conditions or with the fruitfullest of outlooks: I hope you, on your side, are now got to Scotsbrig, or will be there tomorrow when this comes, and explain to my Mother how I come here! She, I know, did not want that at all; nor in truth did I, had I consulted laziness alone; but I was in some sort bound to come, and I think it will do me some good, in several respects, over and above.

We had a pleasant enough journey, all except the sea to Dieppe,—and surely one of the ch[eap]est, the whole fare to Paris, in the best place, being only 22/! Our sail was of 8 hours; a nice little boat, but a “knotty” sea, and some gusts of brief showers: everybody, almost except myself, was sick, and vomiting, “Oh-h-h-h!” I smoked one cigar, lying on my side, horizontal; and looking at the queer French Exhibition men and women 1 whose noisy table got utterly quenched by degrees; one after another breaking into, “Hoh—h—h!” and then silence!— — We had a tolerab[le] inn at Dieppe (a queer nice old town of som[e] 10,000); and I slept moderately well,—dreaming of my Mother in my second sleep. On the whole, it was a nice country all the way, a brilliant day, and the Brownings were excellent friends, and couriered me along in every respect, witht the least trouble left for me except tha[t] of sitting still. We parted at the Railway Station here, after going thro' the octroi [customs post] together,—they are very loud the French railway people; and make the most of every thing, instead of the least, like the wiser English! That octroi, essentially zero, took us nearly an hour of time!— Browning called in the evening to inquire if I was all right; and yesterday I saw him and his Wife again. For news, he reported that Tennyson had already returned out of Italy, and was said to be now back in Paris again. There is travelling, is there not?

Yesterday Lord A and I were to ride but did not,—little Thiers came in at the time, and stayed 1½ hour, talking watery fluent matter all the time. I have yet seen nobody. I stayed in the house yesterday and lay on sofas, or dawdled about smoking, the greater part of the day; having need of rest, beyond anything that Paris cd offer me. But it is a very pretty Capital indeed; and greatly beautified in this quarter since I saw it, seven-and-twenty years ago:2 ah me!

In the evening, yesterday, we had a M. Merimée and a M. Laborde, literary or official people (good enough people, not worth gasping and speaking French for the sake of!)—I hope to see Cavaignac (tho' not with much assurance of getting any or almost any good of him); I “hope to see” one and the other; and on the whole shall saunter about here, and endeavour to take as little trouble as possible, till the time for returning come. We shall return by Calais, I believe, which gives only 2 hours of sea; rather an advantage, 2 hours of it are, for a smoking man.— —

Many English people seem to be here. We had a Lord Grenville3 &c this morning. It is strange to see such multitudes of soldiers all about, in their red trousers; patrols scouring the streets all night, sentries with their lanterns everywhere over the Tuileries Garden. A curious place, and a people if not themselves notable yet in a condition very notable.

Alas, dear Brother, here is the poor French Housemaid who has been twice at the door wishing to get in and do her work on the room. I must end at last: I have been long here; writing to Jane, and my hand quite out,—only just coming in now when I have to finish!

Write to me: I will warn you again when we mean to leave,—which I hope will be in no long time hence. I am sorry not to pay such a dud as this, but (with servants &c) it cannot be well done—so don't you pay either, and that will bring it right. I hope it is not above a ¼ oz!— Did you get a Galignani4 yesterday, and did it cost you anything?—

Oh take care of my poor Mother; I know what a comfort you will be to her! My affectionate regards to Isabella Jamie and everybody. God bless you all.— T. Carlyle