The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 10 March 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530310-TC-JAC-01; CL 28: 68-69


Chelsea 10 March, 1853—

My dear Brother,

Your Letter came on Monday Evening; I was greatly disappointed in the morning at the want of it; and went about in a very disconsolate feeble humour till 11 o'clock, when a Note from Jean (or properly a Note of Isabella's forwarded by Jean) arrived, and cheered me with the good news. Your Letter in the evening was welcome confirmation, and expansion into the details. Our poor old Mother, she had evidently been in great trouble indeed; and, alas, there is so little strength now to work upon, and one's imagination dwells gloomily on the worst possibilities! Thanks to you for all your attention to me and to those dear to me.

Poor old Gibson has got to his rest, then; the far-travelling rugged man has set up his staff, and remains motionless and silent henceforth.1 Poor old fellow, we were sensibly affected to hear it; we acknowledged, however, that his last end, so speedy, had been merciful. His native Moffat has received him after all these multifarious wanderings; and we shall see the “silver-headed” no more.—

All goes on here much as it did. We have now pleasant westerly spring weather; but expect wild blasts still: weak livers, in the meanwhile, are still in some disorder with us; poor Jane complains of almost constant sickliness in the stomach,—sick nausea there, alternating with headache of a new kind:—however, she holds up valiantly, and is even now out, in the brisk air, with Nero.— I myself begin to find that water-cure (drinking of much water for the stomach's sake) is no recipe; and have discontinued it WITH PROTEST!2 It did save me other medicine; but, alas, I find there is no other medicine so ruinous to all strength in those regions!— For the rest, I begin to try more seriously to get something gradually brought to paper, in this sad affair of Fritz; that I may see at least, afar off, some possibility of a deliverance from it. Cosa fatta ha capo;3 or, as I translate it, A thing that will end must begin! Nothing can be worse than my progress; nor can I get any material of Books that is other than abominable to the intellect of man: however, however— —Abeken, as you see by Bunsen's Note, has at length answered an application I made; but sends no Books, merely says he will endeavour to find and send. Never mind!—Bunsen's Note is a miracle of good-nature: I had shot into him & his Goethe Werter-Book such a flight of surly arrows as I thought must undoubtedly have gone to the quick at last:4 but no, he receives them all on his outer tissue of genial whale-blubber, and is not a whit worse. More power to his elbow.

The Ashburtons lately have done unexpectedly a really handsome thing to me. Ld A. is on the Committee of the Athenaeum Club; he said once, Shall I propose you, this spring, for immediate election? I answered grumblingly, vaguely; Lady A. quizzed; and so we come to the clear result, “No,” and I dismissed the matter altogether. But now, the other day, comes news that I am elected, the money all paid, entrance money and subscription in a lump; and that I have only to go in when I like and stay out when I like! Really very kind; and so handsomely done that there was no rejecting or refusing it. Lord An took me the other night to my first dinner and entrance there: I do not much believe I shall go often; but that will be seen. Old Crabbe Robinson,5 visible in the readingroom, inquired after you that night: very old, and clattery. Darwin, Owen6 &c were also visible: Plenty of loungers there, if one wanted lounging!—Adieu dear Brother. I wrote to Scotsbrig half a word on Monday;—hope to hear from you very soon. Our best regards to Sister Phoebe.

Yours ever

T. Carlyle