Page images
PDF
EPUB

THOMAS CARLYLE.

1795-1881.

with Charles Buller at Kew Green.22 Later, he was in the house of Edward Irving in Pentonville ; and during the same year he took other rooms in Pentonville, not very far from his friend. He had various residences during his short visits to London; but it was not until 1834 that he finally went to the house at No. 5 Great Cheyne Row, Chelsea, which was his home until his death in 1881. Great Cheyne Row has been renumbered since Carlyle died ; but his house, then No. 24, was standing in 1885. At the time of his taking possession he wrote to his wife :

The street runs down upon the river, which I suppose you might see by stretching out your head from the front window, at

a distance of fifty yards on the left. We are called Carlyle, vol. Cheyne Row (pronounced Chainie Row), and are a ii. chap.

genteel neighborhood. The street is flag-paved, sunk

storied, iron-railed, all old-fashioned and tightly done p. The house itself is eminent, antique, wainscoted to the very ceiling, and has all been new painted and repaired; broadish stairs with massive balustrades (in the old style) corniced, and as thick as one's thigh ; floors thick as a rock, wooä of them here and there worm-eaten, yet capable of cleanness, and still with thrice the strength of a modern floor. And then as to rooms : Goody! Three stories besides the sunk story, — in every one of them three apartments, in depth something like forty feet in all, a front dining-room (marble chimney-piece, etc.), then a back dining room or breakfast-room, a little narrower by reason of the kitchen stairs; then out of this, and narrower still (to allow a back window, you consider) a china room or pantry, or I know not

Froude's

xviii.

[graphic][merged small]

what, all shelved and fit to hold crockery for the whole street. Such is the ground area, which, of course, continues to the top, and furnishes every bedroom with a dressing-room, or second bedroom ; on the whole, a most massive, roomy, sufficient old house, with places, for example, to hang, say, three dozen hats or cloaks on, and as many curious and queer old presses and shelved closets (all tight and new painted in their way) as would gratify the most covetous Goody: rent thirty-five pounds. .. We lie safe at a bend of the river, away from all the great roads, have air and quiet hardly inferior to Craigenputtock, an outlook from the back windows into more leafy regions, with here and there a red highpeaked old roof looking through, and see nothing of London except by day the summits of St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, and by night the gleam of the great Babylon, affronting the peaceful skies. The house itself is probably the best we have ever lived in, a right old strong, roomy brick house built nearly one hundred and fifty years ago (written in 1834], and likely to see three races of these modern fashionables fall before it comes down.

There he sat, aged, honored, famous, — the leading man of letters, perhaps, of his generation. An old dressing-gown wrapped around him, slippers on his feet, his face grim as granite, and his eyes with that sad prophetic gaze Buchanan’s which is reproduced in all the photographs. On the Macpherbook-shelves close around him were well-thumbed Son. volumes, nearly all of them presentation copies, with the autographs of their mighty authors, chief among them a set of Goethe with notes in the poet's own handwriting. . . . Only the day before he had been sent for by the Queen of England as one of the two or three great men it behooved her to know and honor ; and having spent several hours of conversation with her, he had pronounced her "a nice homely body, just like scores of farmers' wives he had met in Allandale.'

Froude, in his ‘Carlyle' (vol. iv. chap. xxxv.), thus describes his last hours :

His bed had been moved into the drawing-room, which still bore the stamp of his wife's hand upon it. Her work-box and

Robert

other ladies' trifles lay about in their old places. He had forbidden them to be removed, and they stood within reach of his dying hand. He was wandering when I came to his side. He recognized me. • I am very ill,' he said. “Is it not strange that those people should have chosen the very oldest man in all Britain to make suffer this way ? ... When I saw him next, his speech was gone. His eyes were as if they did not see, or were fixed on something far away. ... This was on the 4th of February, 1881. The morning following he died. He had been gone an hour when I reached the house. He lay calm and still, an expression of exquisite tenderness subduing his rugged features into feminine beauty. I have seen something like it in Catholic pictures of dead saints, but never before or since on any human countenance.

ELIZABETH CARTER.

1717 - 1806.

FRO "ROM the age of nineteen until her death, Miss Carter

or Mrs. Carter, as she was called later in life — spent much of her time in London. As a young girl she visited her paternal uncle, who was a silk-mercer in the city, and other friends, until 1762, when the success of her 'Epictetus' made her comparatively independent, and she took apartments at No. 20 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, on the first floor. Here she lodged at intervals for many years. Upon the death of her landlord, and the breaking up of his establishment, she went for a season or two to a lodging-house in Chapel Street, May Fair; but she ultimately came back to the old neighborhood, and settled at No. 21 Clarges Street, where she died a very old woman in 1806. The numbers in Clarges Street have not been changed since her day.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »