Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XI
MALVERN, &c. (1851)

IT was not want of company for himself that made Carlyle regret Mill's withdrawal from society, which followed when Mrs. Taylor, becoming Mrs. Mill, took possession of him. As Carlyle said to Mr. Chapman, in complaining of the Exhibition,1 he was 'worn to death with bores all summer, who present themselves by twos and threes in my study, saying, "Here we are, &c., &c."' While correcting the proofs of Sterling, he was also looking round for new work. On 12.7.51 Mrs. Carlyle was writing to her friend at Thornhill, Mrs. Russell:--"The longer one lives in London, one gets of course to know more people, and to be more invited about; and Mr. C. having no longer such a dislike to great parties as he once had, I fall naturally into the current of London life--and a very fast one it is."

He had often heard about the new-fashioned "water- cure" from John Forster, Bulwer Lytton and others, and the time had now come when, as he said, he was to "pay his tax to contemporary stupor" and try it. His first thought had been of trying it at Darmstadt, and that was what made him prophesy to his friend Thomas Spedding of Keswick,2 that when he came to town to see the Exhibition, 'You will not find me here. I seriously meditate flying beyond seas till the vile banquet of the children of the wind, with all its tumults and eloquent eructations, be fairly over. One dead dog is bad; but fifty of them stranded at Blackfriars Bridge on a hot day, what can you do with these? The nostril and the soul alike turn away with abhorrence from such an Ecumenic Council.'

The printing of John Sterling, however, was not nearly finished by the end of July, and he had to remain in England to do the proofs. In sending this news to Neuberg,3 he

____________________
1
Life of George Eliot, by J. W. Cross, p. 138, etc.
2
Letter printed in Thomas Carlyle and Thomas Spedding, by A. Carlyle, Cornhill Magazine, June, 1921, p. 758.
3
Letter probably unpublished.

-352-

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