The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO JOSEPH NEUBERG ; 5 November 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18521105-TC-JN-01; CL 27: 347-349


Chelsea, 5 Novr, 1852—

Dear Neuberg,

Your little Note, furnished with an English stamp, duly reached me here the other day. It appears you had not, at the date of writing, received the long and confused account that had been sent you:1 but I hope it did at last arrive nevertheless; and satisfy you about one point, that I was not entirely ungrateful for all the friendly pains you had taken with me, and the more than friendly patience you had many times shewn in the course of that unforgettable journey of ours! On other points I was, and still alas am, little able to give you satisfaction. At my return, broken down to utter wreck with long road-woes and the like, I found this poor establishment still full of painters and miscellaneous uncleannesses; quite incapable of being lived in; my poor wife in despair at not having shelter to offer me: in brief, we went, as you know, to The Grange;—and there also, among gay persons of quality, with “dinner at 8, Sir,” I made but little progress in the great problem of finding “rest.” Alas, alas!— We got home again only a few days ago: the house is now habitable; but miscellaneous remnants of upholstering, gardening, gas-fitting, and other furnishing out of the details still painfully goes on, and must go on; all my possessions and arrangements are thrown heels over head, and from the position of my bath and towels to that of my books and papers all is still change and readjustment,—to me a state of matters eminently unpropitious always! In fact, we must have patience yet a while; keep in view the marked improvement as to house-accommodation there is finally sure to be; and, for the rest, hope we shall never have another change of house to make till we get done with earthly houses! Eheu, Eheu!— On the whole, I never in my life felt so utterly demoralised (in the Napoleon sense) as in these two days since I actually got home again, and sat down face to face with the chaotic heap of facts which are around me and within me, and which must be conquered or they will abolish me. The changed house is but a topstone to innumerable other far subtler and more terrible mountains of disorder. Pray for me; I really require the goodwishes of friendly souls,—and it is difficult, in these abstruse courses, to get much help in that way, too. But, in fine, I at least ought to hold my peace; that is the beginning of all progress for a human worker; and so for the present at least, I will say no more on that hand.

Last night there arrived, safe and sound, “by the Elbe” (Steamer?) from Hamburg a considerable square Box, firmly nailed and to appearance full of Books: these I understand well to be the fruit of our or rather your stern labours in the Antiquar-Buchhandlungen [antiquarian bookshops] of the German cities: there they stand, the Carrier demanding nothing for them except a gratuity of two-pence to drink, and the Paper he left us bearing also expressly “Nil” for the present: there they as yet stand; for till I get shelves (which will not be even in a temporary form till this afternoon, and in a permanent form who knows when?), I have not the heart to open the poor Box, or pour its contents into the general inundation which marks these premises in respect of books. I have no doubt it is all right; surely it has been speedy and punctual, to say nothing of probable cheapness, in comparison with Williams & Norgate's method: and so, once more, I have to say to you Euge [Well done]! and to feel, if I do not express, the most emphatic thanks. What can be the meaning of one man's “helping” another, if you do not loyally try to help me, it wd be difficult to say!— — For the rest, I have not at present the least notion of ever writing upon Friedrich; so far as the eye of imagination can reach I do not even see the possibility of such a thing. But here are the materials; a long wish, at any rate, is gratified; and if at any time such a purpose do take me, I can set about it with what strength is left. Something I must do! But some thing far more out of the inmost heart wd be the desirable thing to do. Here also I have need of your prayers;2 nay here chiefly, or here alone. Let us hope, let us hope; above all things, let us be silent.

Returning from The Grange, I found, among other masses of rubbish, four Nos of a Methodist Magazine, containing at distant intervals thro' six months, a criticism of me;3 which I glanced over, and found very strange. I stand before that poor Methodist, it clearly appears, as one of the most portentous black immeasureable monsters, threatening (unless I be a humbug and fool, of which he has a wavering timid hope) to eat up the solar system and submerge mankind! The “misunderstandings” of men by one another sometimes rise to the enormous. All this has given me many thots for these two days.

Thackeray is gone to America to lecture: a Novel of his came out just on his departure,4 and threatens to prove very tiresome and therefore justly “unsuccessful”: he was in person at The Grange for two or three days, but did not captivate us very much; a spectacle rather that made me infinitely sad. Aus dem wird—was [What will become of him]?

My Brother John was married on Tuesday last at Moffat in Scotland5 and is now upon his marriage-jaunt I know not precisely where! The Lady is a Widow of 40, “handsome if not beautiful,” with 4 children and £4,000 a-year (at her own disposal), whom he has known since old Roman times, and always more and more esteemed for her many good qualities and kindliness of nature. And so it is winded up; and Jack is suddenly a Paterfamilias and rich man in his generation: poor Brother, may it prosper well with him! He is a good soul, after all; and has borne much indifferent fortune in the cheerfullest spirit.— Alas, men are waiting for me this half hour! Adieu dear Neuberg

Yours ever—

T. Carlyle