August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO CHARLES BUTLER ; 9 June 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580609-TC-CBU-01; CL 33: e2


Chelsea, London, 9 june1 1858—

My dear Sir,

The day before yesterday your Letters came to hand, enclosing, all safe and right, the Draught for £14,2 which could not gain admittance in February last!

I give you many thanks; and, truth to say, I am heartily ashamed for all the trouble you have had in this perverse instance. Two Letters now, with such precaution, and a third enclosed (which should have been the first and the only),—all to get me persuaded to take a little money out of your hand!—There is no doubt the mistake occurred at this door; the Letter first sent contains our Postman's3 visible signature with the word “refused”: there is where one hitch was, everybody else has done his part to perfection and with success. One might almost cry and laugh both at once over such a thing. The truth is, this long while back,—young fools being in the habit of bothering me about “autographs” and other nonsenses, provoking when you have to throw a shilling into the fire along with them,—there has been a standing order that no foreign Letter is to be accepted, if unpaid,4 unless the handwriting be known. That is the whole mystery. I no doubt saw that Letter, it would be transiently shewn to me; but I had not the least recognised it; and so (probably in very great haste, and sunk among my own paper-clippings) had negatorily shaken my head; and sent the beneficence home again, in a most astonishing manner, as if it had been a maleficence! Nothing more tragicomical has happened lately. Forgive me, dear Sir, and laugh with me in spite of the trouble you have had: and pray put yr Name on the outside, if in future you dread any such occurrence.

I think I had, once or perhaps twice for a moment, in my head, that some Letter used to come from you about that season of the year, and that none had come: but I mainly concluded, as the whole Finance of America had suddenly gone topsyturvey, that my small deposit in it had sunk among the ruin,—beyond discovery even of Mr Butler for the moment; and that by and by I shd hear good account of it nevertheless from the said Mr B:—so that in fact I did not think about it at all, or any more than if the Bank of England had stopt payment with it.5

And now you inform me there is no halt or stoppage; and in spite of the great earthquake, that small packet lies quiet in its place! I can only say that it is very strange;—and that you must be one of the best Financiers ever heard of. For which I am full of thanks and of wonder.—We had, as you say, abundant tumult here of the same kind; and specimens, I do believe, fully as ugly as any in America: indeed I hear from observers, and it confirms any inspection I have had myself, that for reckless gambling under the name of Commerce, Glasgow challenges New York or any terrestrial City; and that there seldom was such a “Bank”6 as that of theirs that collapsed on the late occasion. The more is the pity for Glasgow and the like Cities; and the bigger heaps of gold they gather, the uglier do they grow,7—even while their gold stays with them, which it will not long.

Yesterday, no farther gone, I got done with that First Part of my Book:8 you can judge whether it was with a feeling of relief or not. The thing is not to be published till Septr9 (season too late now, says the Bookseller): but I am out of it,—still alive, thank Heaven! My Wife, who bids me not forget her regards to you, has again been very weakly thro' the Winter; and does not seem to take well with the Heat either now that it is come.10 My next pressing business now is to get her and myself (myself first I suppose, and into Scotland most likely) fairly out of this Brick Babylon & its tumults, into silent country quarters where we may taste the Summer at firsthand, and see if it will do nothing for us.11

The one £50012 is invested in Stereotype Plates;13 but there is another coming before long, of whh you may hear!—Believe me, Yours sincerely & with thanks, T. Carlyle