October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO WILLIAM HAMILTON; 8 July 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340708-TC-SWH-01; CL 7:237-239.


5, Great Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London, / July 8th 1834.

My Dear Sir,

The hope of ever seeing you at Craigenputtoch has now vanished into the infinite limbo. We have broken up our old settlement, and, after tumult enough, formed a new one here, under the most opposite conditions. From the ever-silent whinstones of Nithsdale to the mud-rattling pavements of Piccadilly there is but a step. I feel it the strangest transition; but one uses himself to all.

Our upholsterers, with all their rubbish and clippings, are at length handsomely swept out of doors. I have got my little book-press set up, my table fixed firm in its place, and sit here awaiting what Time and I, in our questionable wrestle, shall make out between us. The house pleases us much; it is in the remnant of genuine old Dutch-looking Chelsea;1 looks out mainly into trees. We might see at half a mile's distance Bolingbroke's Battersea; could shoot a gun into Smollett's old house (at this very time getting pulled down), where he wrote Count Fathom, and was wont every Saturday to dine a company of hungry authors, and then set them fighting together. Don Saltero's coffee-house still looks as brisk as in Steele's time; Nell Gwynn's2 boudoir, still bearing her name, has become a gin-temple, not inappropriately; in fine, Erasmus lodged with More (they say) in a spot not five hundred yards from this. We are encompassed with a cloud of witnesses,3 good, bad, indifferent.

Of London itself I must not begin to speak. I wish you would come and look at it with me. There is a spare bed here, ample room and verge enough;4 and, for welcome, I wish you would understand that to be for you infallible at all times.

Literature seems dying of thin diet and flatulence, but it is not quite so near dead as I had calculated. In all human things there is the strangest vitality. Who knows how long even bookselling may last? Ever, too, among these mad Maëlstroms swims some little casket that will not sink. God mend it!

Mrs. [Buller?] often speaks of you, but seems to have no recent news. She has got much deeper into the vortex than when I saw her last; dines with Chancellors; seems to sit berattled all day with the sound of door-knockers and carriage-wheels, and the melody of drawing-room commonplace, perennial as that of the spheres: for the rest, a most lovable loving woman, to whom I could wish a better element.

There is some uncertain talk here about founding a new periodical,5 on another than the bibliopolic principle, with intent to show Liberalism under a better than its present rather sooty and ginshop aspect. I was asked whether your co-operation might be possible. I answered, Possible. If it go on, you will let me write to you farther about it.

Meanwhile, I am actually going to write a book, and perhaps publish a booklet already written: the former is my enterprise till perhaps spring next. Wish me well through it.

Will you ever send me a sheet of Edinburgh news? It were very welcome from your hand. Pray tell Moir also where I am, and give my hearty love to him. Think kindly of me; there are few in Scotland I wish it more from.

With kind regards to Lady Hamilton, in which my wife, were she here at the moment, would cordially unite,

I remain, / My dear Sir William, / Yours most faithfully, /

T. Carlyle.