The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO ROBERT BROWNING; 28 October 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18511028-TC-RB-01; CL 26: 219-220


Chelsea, 28 Octr, 1851—

Dear Browning,

Here is the Mazzini Letter, not achieved till last night, the Triumvir being busy with Kossuth and other chaotic objects. I observe he has given Mrs Browning the pas [precedence]; which, apart from “place aux dames [the proper place for ladies]” in general, is perhaps very suitable in such an Introduction.1 May it bring a little pleasure to both of you one day! Mazzini thinks a run out by railway, some day, to the place of Address might be a welcome method. You will see better by inquiry where you are.

I believe I recollect your Avenue: spacious smooth road, mounting gently towards the Arc de l'Etoile; turns in front of the houses;—an altogether eligible place. If you will tell me whether you look to the South or the North (towards the River or away from it), I shall, on this hypothesis of mine, be well able to conceive your whereabout, for I was there twice in my late travels. There is nothing mooted here of journeys to Paris or elsewhere;2 we have a feeling as of Greenland ships frozen in during this still season, and are very thankful for it (at least I am) after the jangling uproar of late months. Our weather, dark, dusty, smoky, windless and sunless, seems far inferior to yours: but that is an evil it were useless to rebel against. The profound isolation I often contrive to secure for myself is a great comparative blessing: the wearied ear, confounded with vain noises (I mean the spiritual ear withal), catches some touch of the “Eternal Silences,” with amazement, with terror, joy, and almost horror and rapture blended; not able to express itself in any way,—except it were a day's good weeping somewhere;—and in the meanwhile waves passionately, to the Mérimées and Judges of the Industry of all Nations, “Procul este, O per Deos procul [Hence, ye; by God, hence far away]!”3—— If I were to go to France, I think my next Object wd be Normandy rather; to see the Bayeux Tapestry,4 the Grave of W. Conqueror,5 and the footsteps (chiefly Cathedrals I believe) of those huge old Kings of ours. I read a Ducarel (French Englishman of 1750) the other week, who roused all my old aspirations for a while. But after all it is better to sit still.— Pray take order with Moxon that I may see that little piece you have been doing.6 And get into another bigger, quàm primùm [as soon as possible]! You are not permitted to be silent much longer. Good be with that gentle Lady and you!

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle