Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XXVI
A MERRY CHRISTMAS (1852)

ON 23.12.52 Carlyle was writing a long letter to his good Quaker friend in Wales,1 Charles Redwood, and after thanking him for the usual 'well-replenished Christmas box,' containing a turkey and mutton and cheese, he gave details of his recent domestic history, including the alterations and repairs of the house and his travels in Germany. 'I had not one night's sleep all the time, if you know what that means. It is not yet many weeks since we got the last of the unclean creatures (painters and varnishers) out of the house, and they have to come back next summer and "finish everything." . . . My poor wife has suffered a good deal, but is not nearly so low as I, and appears to be mending faster. Let me not forget to add that I too am mending; that the house is improved for the rest of one's life, that my nerves are perhaps better than before, and thus, on the whole, that all shall be "well that ends well."

'I am not quite idle, tho I cannot, even in the language of flattery, be described as working in a visible manner. Frederick the Great has cost me huge reading, and it was after him alone or mainly that I kept enquiring in Germany lately; nevertheless it seems to me I never can embark on writing a book about him, so little lovely is the man to me, so dim, vague, faint, and contemptible is the account I get of his life-element, is (too often) his life-element itself to me! He will walk the plank, I think, or has walked it, and I must try something else. Adieu, dear Redwood. I send you many grateful thoughts and am silent.

'Yours ever truly, ' T. CARLYLE.'

On Christmas Day an English friend who was passing called to wish the Carlyles a Merry Christmas and "made a note" of what followed. William H. Brookfield was his

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

-453-

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