The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO ARTHUR HUGH CLOUGH ; 12 May 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530512-TC-AHC-01; CL 28: 132-135


Chelsea, 12 May, 1853—

Dear Clough,

Today I got a very pleasant Letter from you,1 with many rough fresh glimpses into New-England life and ways; a pleasant accompaniment indeed to one's breakfast in a May morning. But for the last two days I have also had a Letter lying for you which I can hope will be no less pleasant. The Ashburtons are gone to Paris for a fortnight, and the Lady left it in my charge. It is not this Letter, you perceive, which I am recommending as pleasant! No, it is the Inclosure; an Invitation to you to come home;2—I advise you, as Nature will, to lay this instantly aside, and to read that!— — Here we will pause till you have done so.

Now what is your opinion; or can there be two, in so brown a country, with the young frogs all making melody round you, and a new language springing up in the Philadelphia regions? I of course cannot pretend to judge in the last resort; but my decided impression is, you should write at once to Lord Granville, and say, Yes. England is England,—even with all the Hudsons and Uncle-Tommeries it has. Your salary, at first starting, is not large; but it is always tending to grow larger, and becomes at last perfectly sufficient, and more, for a man whose wants are spiritual, and not Hudsonic but human: the work you have to do, which I understand consists in examining Candidate Schoolmasters, will surely be one of the quietest of useful works, and perfectly plain to you from the first. The small salary (if you think it small) will teach you noble thrift, and various high Spartan virtues, which are worth more to a man than all the yellow rubbish which so many two-legged swine are grubbing for, with painfully assiduous snout, in California and the other Hemisphere:3—virtues getting dreadfully uncommon at present; and betokening (if we recollect well what they mean) the very Devil to pay, for all manner of persons and nations, by and by!— In short, I suppose you will come? In that case, we may have a Translated Homer,4 and other fine things. But for the rest, understand me as not advising at all, since no man can “advise”: only if you do come, it is certain there will several of us be very glad to see you again.

Lady Ashburton is the sole author of this Granville invitation that has turned up for you; to her direct what thanks in your mind may be due for it. I did say when the thing was done, It was a good work;—but the doing of it, or the helping to do it, was none of mine.5

On other points I must say nothing today. Milnes, when he turns up, shall have your message.6 I got Emerson's Letter7 two or three days ago; and answer it by this mail: what you say of the man8 is eminently my own experience of him too; “No other man, in America or Europe either,” I often sadly say, “who speaks as if he had an immortal soul in him, under this sky!” Ach Gott, as we say in Philadelphia,9 it is the singing time and spawning time of the Frog genus,—and the Stork, would he but arrive in these parts, were a sacred bird!10

The Beecher-Stowe concern is tumbling along, I believe, amid the May Meetings, like the carcass of a big ass in a dunghill tank which many men are stirring with long poles. There was a big foolish meeting of quality people about it, last week again, in “Aunt Harriet's Cabin,”—so they now call the Duchess's grand palace:—“lunch with Mrs Stowe,” which unexpectedly broke out in Speeches, &c.11 It is a fact, however, that the great body of rational people are indifferent to it or more; and only the weak-minded and strong-lunged are concerned in these phenomena.

Adieu, dear Clough; here has somebody come in, and I must at any rate, close this part of my affairs. We shall hope soon to hear of you,—and good news! / Ever yours / T. Carlyle

The Description of Cambridge, given by such simple methods, is capital.— The Dollar Note, having served its purpose here, ought, by the rule of Nothing-in-vain, to be returned.12 Who is the dull hard gentleman in it?

To Milnes I have, by a chance today, sent your message. Spring is very cold here hitherto. Come and see!— / T.C.

13 May