The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 13 June 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530613-TC-JAC-01; CL 28: 170-172


Chelsea, 13 june, 1853—

My dear Brother,

Many thanks for your continual attention in sending news about my Mother; which is in reality the greatest favour to me. I have been much out of disposition for writing to anybody of late, and indeed generally am; it is all the kinder in you that you continue your precious bulletins, and go on writing without the due return of answers. I am in a dreary way of business without success in getting anything done; a very sad predicament indeed for a working man! All the past week and more has gone, for example, in making to myself an INDEX to the Letters, Writings &c of my unfortunate Fritz: in the Cartload of Books written hitherto on that subject there is no available article of that kind; but only various unavailable,—mournfully testifying the prevalence of Human Pedantry, and in general of Human Stupidity (which takes many forms) in the treatment of that matter! How I shall next bestir myself is still an uncertainty: I am in the sad case of going round this bleak sandy subject, and round it, and on all sides trying in vain to bore for a well into it. Persistance, however, is the one law for me hitherto; I must not quit it yet, under penalty of doing worse. The fact is, my heart is dreadfully crushed down; and I have risen in right indignation as of old against the obstacles, and crushed them into subjection. That is the method; and to that it must come at last, or to zero and to being quite beaten in the business. Ay de mi!

We had John Gordon here, as perhaps you would see in a Note to my Mother: I think it was about the very time when you were in Edinburgh; so that you would not see poor G. when there. He is of all mortals the least productive in an interview; but one always likes to see his honest face again, for the sake of old times, poor good soul. We had him here only for an hour or so, in company with an Oxford “Mr Lingen” (a clever Clerk of the Privy-Council Education people, but otherwise worth nothing to me);1 Mazzini too was here; and Gordon, tho' conditionally predicting such a thing, did not come again.— Mazzini, home safe from his mad adventure, was quite cheerful, gay and amusing; and did not seem in the least conscious of what a poor figure he had cut in the eyes of all rational onlookers, or how much he had lost in men's esteem here by such a pitiful “revolution” à la Donnybrook.2 He stays constantly in a circle of Ashhursts &c;3 and, I conjecture, is glad to be worshipped in that circle, without inquiring too strictly what circle it is! I find less of the “Martyr” in him, a good deal, ever since he made that Triumvirate appearance on the stage;4 and more of the man “starving it in the provinces”;5—in fact he seems to me a happier, also pleasanter, but by no means to grow a wiser man; nor has he, as before, the tragic dignity of an “endlich Toll-werdenden [man always coming a little closer to madness],” such dignity as is in that!— — For the present, we have (occasionally) a Yankee Lady sent by Emerson, who has discovered that the “Man Shakspeare” is a Myth, & did not write those Plays that bear his name, whh were on the contrary written by a “Secret Associate” (names unknown): she has actually come to England for the purpose of exam[in]ing6 that, and if possible, proving it, from the British Museum and other sources of evidence. Ach Gott!— — Jane persists in her Moffat intentions. I hope to hear soon of you again. Adieu dear Brother. With love to Phoebe, Yours ever T. Carlyle

This is at last a day of pouring rain; which we are very glad of.