August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO JOHN FORSTER ; 28 May 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580528-TC-JF-01; CL 33: 229-230


Chelsea, 28 May, 1858—

Dear Forster,

I am a great sinner;—but yet you know not the loads I have been under! One day I will say my Pater peccavi [Father I have sinned]1; and you will pity and forgive.— The truth is, the life and intellect are nearly extinct in me by that long imprisonment in the (Prussian) Whale's Belly, cut off from the light of the sun and all cheerful human things;—two years constant; 8 years off and on! Jonah's adventure2 was but a trifle [in]3 comparison. Not above once in the six months, on evident compulsion, have I tried dining out; and every time, let me try as I will, I am sensibly more wretched (and also more stupid) for a week after.4 In some days more, the Printers will get their last Proofsheet from me (last Slips coming this very night perhaps); and then, my notion is—to fly to milk-diet, silence, and the ends of the world, for unlimited periods! Not without seeing you first, however; you and a friendly face or two more.

Our country excursion, on which you found us gone,5 was by no means of jovial purpose,—medicinal rather, for one thing;—and indeed my poor Wife got evident benefit out of it (as did I); only that she caught face-ache, coming home; and has fallen as weak almost as ever, in these late wet days. I am grieved and distressed to see her; nothing but the unsubduable spirit she has keeps her on foot at all.

The Essays of Forster6 lie on the table downstairs; getting themselves read night by night: it was really a negligence (unforgiveable in other circumstances) not to thank you sooner for that Gift. So many botherations come, I hardly get one hour of good reading per night,—my nerves are so weary too. That is a capital stroke of Historical Investigation, and honest Labour and Insight that of The Grand Remonstrance.7 I know what that kind of thing involves; and how few of existing “Historians” have the least notion of it. Without the like of whh, however, no History is worth writing or worth reading (except by blockheads, of the temporary sort). You have curiously found out that phenomn of Hon. Members standing with their swords ungirt, “pressing their swords on the floor,” impatient to whip them out, at that late hour, two centuries ago;8—phenomn not to be understood before. There is a great deal of faithful research, victorious inquiry and insight; some very striking pictures too: an indisputably meritorious Piece;—dreadfully rare, the like of it, at present!

Long ago I urged on Bruce,9 for months together, to get that D’Ewes Ms. published (by his Dryasdust Societies or otherwise), with a candle or two kindled abt the edges of it, in the proper way. But you, I see, are the man for that,10—if you dare the leap, to pluck up drowned honour by the locks!11 Surely there are about 500 men in England to whom such a Book, faithfully done, wd be worth a couple of guineas? Subscription wd be the way for it. Put down my name, for one!— Yours ever truly (to meet soon) T. Carlyle