1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO ARTHUR HELPS; 17 May 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550517-TC-AH-01; CL 29: 313-314


Chelsea, 17 May, 1855—

Dear Helps,

It gives me real pleasure that you turn up again,—serene as ever, and “with the time of day in your pocket” (one may say, tho' in another sense than the Irish Mother, rejoicing over her son's new watch when he came home)!1 Many and many a time in this last grim year, one of the grimmest and loneliest I ever had, have I asked myself, “What has become of Helps? What has come over him?”—

Morgan left the little volume2 faithfully last night. To read it will be nothing but a pleasure to me, had you no business with it. I can never rightly see whither you are tending with this Book; but all the parts of it I read are luminous, naive and human: extremely comfortable reading to me, you may believe.

But am I to send the volume back? And if so, when?— The Post will be my handiest way; and I will time according as you order.— I find a “Peter Martyr” often quoted from, this morning. Have you explained anywhere that he is not the Oxford Protestant-Italian Peter Mr;3 but another of the same with a difference,—of whom farther details are scarce with me? I know not what you have made out of Charles V (who remains entirely invisible in Robertson4 and all English Histories hitherto); I know only, for absolutely certain, that he has the Austrian chin, a pair of lazy deep eyes,—and shews here and there a longheaded Flemish mercantile character to me, of much obstinacy and occasional arrogance and wrath; dead to the higher considerations, or pretty nearly so.— Good speed to you, good speed! Happy man that are within “two months” of the shore;5 not bound in dreary Polar seas, like some others of us; nothing on any azimuth but Icebergs and Walruses, the very stars for most part gone out!

It would do me real good, I am certain, to get down for a whole week to the silence of Vernon Hill;6 and I will pray for it, while the leaves are all green, and the summer in its pride: pray;—but the gods are very deaf: alas!

Well we cannot help it; we must toil along, with the general “Balaklava” round us, the Supreme Charlatan on the top of it; and Roebuck's Committee7 publishing daily reports by way of remedy. God is great.

Yours ever truly (in haste)

T. Carlyle