1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 28 April 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18540428-TC-JAC-01; CL 29: 70-72


Chelsea, 28 April, 1854

My dear Brother,

We came home from Addiscombe on Monday last;1 and have been very demure here (rather in a bilious condition, one of us) ever since. We had gone out on the Thursday before; nobody there but the Host & Hostess (to whom a certain “Poodle Byng,”2 so called, was added for the last 2 days): we had an altogether quiet time; mostly spent in reading;—and one bright day, fit for sitting in the open air, in solitude, was really the pleasantest I have had for long.— On Sunday (utterly cold and stormy) we made a pilgrimage to the Crystal Palace which is but some 2 miles off: a monstrous mountain of a glass building on the top of Sydenham Hill3 (very conspicuous from Cheyne Walk here), innumerable “objects of art” in it, whole acres of Egyptian monsters, and many really good copies of classical and modern sculpture, which will deserve examination one day: the living visitors, not very numerous in so huge an edifice (probably not above 200, sparsely scattered up and down) were almost all Jews; outside were as many thousands of the Christian persuasion, or rather Christian-Cockney, unable to get in: the whole matter seemed to me the very highest flight of Transcendental Cockneyism yet known among mankind; one saw “regardless of Expense” written on every fibre of it, and written with the best Cockney Judgement, yet still with an essentially Cockney one. Regardless of Expense: that was truly the grand miracle of it.—

Since our return, I have been utterly stupid and sleepy, owing to dyspeptic reasons. Our weather still fierce from the north & east, with only occasional brief touches of wet hitherto. I am good for almost nothing, but hope to rally in a day or two.

This morning I had sad news, as you will guess from the inclosed leaf: the death of poor Redwood,4 my good Welsh friend, of whose illness I had heard no hint. He wrote to me after my return from Scotsbrig; I rather think, I did not answer; and alas that was the finale of all. He was one of the most veracious beings, I ever knew; and liked me well, for which I was grateful always, tho' his society was never entertaining to me. Eheu, eheu!

The Laird of Deanby5 seems really to be “halfmad,” as Jean defines him. A House with Plasterers still in it is evidently not of the most covetable sort.6 You will have ample time to take survey, and form your best conclusion, by the plan now adopted.

I am very sorry indeed to hear of Jamie's loss: £50 is far too heavy a sum for him if it could be helped!7— Along with your Note, came one from Jean; to whom I have not yet written in answer. They were all well, as probably you have heard since. We have not seen Neuberg this long time: his letter is fully nicer than his presence, in most cases!— Ever your affecte

T. Carlyle