January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO ALEXANDER GILCHRIST ; 1 July 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560701-TC-AGI-01; CL 31: 112-113


Chelsea 1 july, 1856—

My dear Sir,

I was sorry to miss the Lady1 and you yesterday: but the rule needs to be “made absolute”!2— I have again to thank you for many fine things.

These strange coloured Prints of Costumes (all as true, we may fancy, as the “English Lord” is) are very curious to look upon, and awaken many thoughts. I cannot rightly make out the time, guessing from internal evidence; the place seems to be Vienna, Artist one I never heard of before.3Kaiser Leopoldus” died 17054 (but the Portrait here resembles his son, Carl VI,5 rather); the Imperatrix [Empress] given is Leopold's, however:6 on the other hand, the female Archidux “Maria Anna” is his grand-daughter come to maturity;7 and takes on8 to about 1740 or later. “Prince Eugenius[”]9 too (strangely walking a minuet, or walking the tight-rope as they mostly do!) takes us to abt the same date,—not quite. Probably they were published at Wien,10 now and then, for a long series of years.

That Prussian Picture is a very old acquaintance and a first-rate favourite of mine!11 I have seen an older Engraving, more elaborate, but not so like as this: the oil Picture is still in Charlottenburg12 as fresh as when new; and Lord Ashburton here has an unsurpassable Copy of it,13—done, I believe, for my sake, tho' I get but little good of it. We are both of us, my wife and I, in love with the Picture;—must have this Engraving framed, if you will give it leave to hang here till—till you become our neighbour,14 and one can step in to look at it and other things!

I read Carr thro', with great interest: a really curious old talk he keeps up, and is an authentic man.15 Mentzel too, he is worth keeping.16 I have taken the Titles of the Geneva and the Thorn-Tumult Pamphlets;17 and propose to return these two, but to keep all the rest.

As to your coming hither to be next-neighbour to us, in reference to the noises &c and in spite of them, I can say nothing other than what you heard from me the other day. Namely that I dare not advise anybody into a House (almost as dangerous as advising him to a Wife,—except that divorce is easier); therefore that I will not advise in the least;—but that: meanwhile it is inconceivable to me you shd not be better far than the average neighbour I have to look for from Fate; and therefore that if Heaven shd please to “rain you accidentally” into that house, I should esteem it a kindness on the part of Heaven.

Not another moment is left: “Breakfast ready, Sir!” (for I have been up too early).

Yours always truly /

T. Carlyle