July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO CHARLES DICKENS ; 7 November 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18551107-TC-CHDI-01; CL 30: 107-109


Chelsea, 7 Novr, 1855—

Dear Dickens,

Coming home from you,1 the suggestion of our civic Friend,2 to have a Subscription Book at Prescott's in the City,3 rose on me again; and it took a rather different aspect. I said to myself:

Of course a man with money can pay it at Cotts's,4 if he is perceptibly in the faintest degree resolute upon the subject: but if he is only imperceptibly “resolute”; hanging in the wind, like a brown leaf at this season,—capable of being turned either way; his poor conscience perhaps glad of an excuse which will save both trouble and money? And is not this perhaps the case with a great many lukewarm people, who would fain “subscribe,” and also would fain not, as is the way with poor human nature?— A man with the smallest call of business to pay money at Coutts's, he is like a wheel on an inclined plane, and will gravitate victoriously against all obstacles; a man thinking to subscribe, he is like a wheel, slightly, most slightly propelled upon a perfectly horizontal smooth plane, and a grain of sand is capable of stopping him!— — This was my soliloquy; which I send you. If there be any difficulty at all in opening a City Book, if it hurt the symmetry of our procedure, if it will do or threaten us any mischief; that is another affair. But if that is not in any measure so (which I do not by any means affirm, or in the least know),—then why not indulge poor weak brethren with their City Bank? In whh case I shd vote for Prescott's, were it only in the hope of getting five pounds from the “Historian of Greece,”5—more power to his elbow.

Do not answer this; speak of it to Forster and decide Yes or No with him. In fact it is you two alone who can be supposed to have judgement on it: and except the above notions put as queries, my very thoughts fall dumb upon the subject. You will write tomorrow; but not on this.

Here is a new Letter since I got home: £5 in it, which money likewise I enclose, since you are to be at the Bank tomorrow and I not. Please pay it in, under the Title written in the other Note, “Anonymous, Westr” &c that we may be able to discriminate it. If I get one or two more such Letters, and there is need of a new fillip in The Times, they can be announced there, to spite Common Sense and Father of a Family, all at once.6

Well, this is £20 I have heard of today, besides our own Fifteen, and the pocketful of melting stamps. My own guess is, London is not nearly yet exhausted;—and there is the California of Lichfield7 in the rear. What are we afraid of!

Adieu, dear Dickens; come soon back to us,8 and let me see you then. I will read your Prognosis tomorrow evg (I hope); and wait eagerly till that Doctor come back for a consultation—

Yours always truly /

T. Carlyle