Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XXXVI
TAKING IT EASY (1850)

ALL the time Carlyle was in the country, he had been suffering from dyspepsia and depression, but soon after he settled down again at home, he was able to report to Redwood that he was feeling better,1 and for the next three months he was reading at large. When busy he used to be content to learn what was in the daily newspapers from his wife's report; but now he read many periodicals, old and new, and books also, Sophocles for one item, and Wycherley's dirty plays for another, tho he stopped about the middle of Wycherley, 'with real abomination.' It was a relief to turn to Scaligerana or the good things of Joseph Scaliger, in French and English, which he much enjoyed. While reading he was thinking of what to work on next. Ireland? or Education? Or some bit of English history, perhaps William the Conqueror? 'But what,' he thought, 'can be done with a British Museum under fat pedants, with a world so sunk as ours, and alas! with a soul so sunk and subdued to its elements as mine seems to be?'

In November an American Globetrotter in London posted to him "to be forwarded " a letter from Emerson to Mazzini, and intimated that he had a letter of introduction to Carlyle himself, but would not deliver it because Carlyle had called the Yankees "eighteen million bores!" He was writing from Morley's Hotel. Carlyle went to it at once; but found the Globetrotter had left for Liverpool that morning. So on 14.11.50 Carlyle was writing to Emerson to explain the matter:--

'"Eighteen million bores,"--good Heavens don't I also know how many of that species we also have; and how with us, as with you, the difference between them and the eighteen thousand noble-men and non-bores is immeasurable and inconceivable; and how, with us as with you, the

____________________
1
Carlyle's Holidays in Wales, by John Howells, Red Dragon Magazine, April, May and June, 1884.

-323-

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