The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 21 December 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18521221-TC-LA-01; CL 27: 369-370


Chelsea, 21 decr 1852—

Dear Lady,— Along with this comes, in brown-paper cover, the Catalogue of Prints I spoke about. On Sunday, which is my day of rest, I look it over for the second time; marked (see first page) all the Pieces I thought you had any chance to care about: you can look them over for yourself, when you have time, and are in the humour for such an enterprise; please then to send me your orders about them, and the ready Neuberg (gone to Hampstead, happily) shall at once set about fulfilling them. I dare say there are far more Prints marked than you want actually to have; but that was the safe side to err on; being all by Vandyke,1 and carefully engraved (as appears), it is to be expected they are true likenesses, for one thing. Neuberg says, this Weber of Bonn is now one of the chief Print-dealers, or altogether the chief, in Germany; a very honest man, and has Prints cheap. He is gathering, for Neuberg, what he calls a “set of Chodowieckis” (not a tithe of the whole, I shd think) for “30 thalers,” about £5! I can make nothing of that speculation,—and consider it not advisable for you in the meantime, did your vagrant thots ever point in that direction! And so enough of Prints.

I fancy you very busy, with guests, with preparations for childrens' Christmas,—with, at one time, the danger of two conjurors coming upon you together. That danger is over; may all others go like it! Be merry, be happy in your work of rural bounty; and may many an old poor soul, and many a hopeful simple young one, be filled with thanks and pleasure by your means. It is one of the opportunities these evil times do offer the like of you; and it is well and beautiful that you make the most of it. Ah me!— But surely this thing ought not to make me sad; as, it was said once to me, everything does: quite the same what “things” are—to me!—

We have a kind of joy here, as good citizens, whh affects even me, in the destruction of that scandalous Jew-Swindler and the Derby Ministry he was doing stump-oratory sleight-of-hand for! A. Helps and I met a clerical old gentn, a friend of his, on the street yesterday, who broke out “Glory to the 19” (majority on thursday night),—which I did not at first understand. All people that I see are very glad; and have once more (poor souls) a kind of hope that “something will be done.” Thus too Micawber2 always hoped “something would turn up!” Better to say, No, there will nothing turn up; since I do nothing myself, there will nothing be done,—of the least use to me, at any rate!

Our weather is mended for the last 3 days; today is as bright as summer; quite a blessing to behold after these deluges. My villainous lameness (known only to myself, of late, indeed) fades likewise slowly away, leaves not a wreck behind;3 and in fact I feel always as if, behind these black temporary miseries, I were not worse than usual, perhaps even fundamentally better,—were I once thoroughly rested, i.e. steeped in the mud of my own reflexions for a couple of months, and then washed clean:—but alas, my whole soul seems fallen rheumatic, and my whole existence needs such vigour if I wd not lose it quite! In fine, O beautiful Lady, it is too true the humble individual now addressing you has been dreadfully put upon, by men or devils or both,—and is ugly and sore, and not Caliban but a cramp!4 Let him hold his peace, for one thing—the wretch!

I have been translating something, whh Lord A. and you shall see one day; unluckily it is now quite near an ending. I also read little Lord Johnny's T. Moore:5 very chaotic, rather weak throughout; but there is autobiography, there are Diaries in it,—on the whole, perhaps it is worth yr getting. The little Editor, tho' weak, is really sensible in his way. God bless you, Lady dear, I can add no more.

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle