1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 10 November 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18541110-TC-JAC-01; CL 29: 198-199


Chelsea, 10 Novr, 1854—

My dear Brother,

Last night Mayer came to me himself with a new difficulty. He had that day taken the Stone to the ground, in a perfect state as he conceived, and meant to set it up, when the Manager or Clerk of the Cemetery (whose permit is requisite) objected that the name in his Books was Carlyle, not “Fowler”; that there was no such name as Fowler in his records, Doctors Letters, or other entries (tho' evidently the one meant in this Inscription); and that it was contrary to rule, and he could not permit it! Mayer had to no purpose demonstrated, pleaded; the man stood inflexibly upon his regulations; the second line should have been (after the “In memory of”) “Phoebe Hough Carlyle” (“only Daughter of—Fowler”1 &c); and so it must now be, or the Stone could not go up.— What was to be done? That one word, Mayer assured me, could be changed to Carlyle without the least injury to the Stone, and without its being noticeable by any scrutiny: to have started with, I thought it would perhaps have been fully as suitable, and would have pleased you perhaps almost better. On the whole there was no alternative either, but that or effacing the whole: so I permitted him;—and this day (our appointment was) they are making that change; whh, with renewing the paint &c, will require two days. the stone is still in the cemetery (not brought back), where I am to go and see it today, and again after it is up.

Do not vex yourself my dear Brother about this thing. I believe poor Mayer is hardly to blame, and may be forgiven the oversight if it is one; nor is the poor Pedant Clerk to be blamed;—nor, in fine, is the Inscription injured at all, if they do the thing well which I shall take care they do.

Not knowing certainly where you are today (for you spoke of going to Glasgow for a short time), I will write no more at present than this the barely needful. By next Letter I hope to report that the work is all done and well, and this little act of piety properly accomplished. I am sorry there has been so much bother to you in it; I did not expect there could have been any of these fluctuations and uncertainties that have occurred.

I am still working; but with a success that is really pitiable! I must persevere, and get on better, under pain of going almost mad.— The day before yesterday I was at Windsor, looking into Portraits, Prints, Miniatures &c (by private favour),—saw many a thing; and at length “the Prince” himself, with whom there was a pleasant enough little Dialogue; of which you shall know all the particulars one day, if you like. Hat nichts zu bedeuten [It does not matter]. I returned home, much flurried by my day's travel and activity; and have had a worse dose of cold ever since. John Fergus was here last night: Nichts, nichts, that too! Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle