Saturday, May 26, 2012

“Not So Much A Dwelling Place As A Battlefield”

The front exterior of Carlyle’s House, Chelsea, London.

Thomas Carlyle lived in the house from 1834 until his death in 1881.

In 1853, Carlyle added a light-filled study on the fourth floor. It was in this room that he wrote his massive six-volume biography of Frederick The Great and pondered the great questions of the day.

The study is the most interesting and most beautiful room in the house. It was intended to provide Carlyle with a quiet, peaceful, isolated space in which to contemplate and write.

The study was soundproofed insofar as possible, since Carlyle intensely disliked the strolling organ grinders that plagued the streets of London during the 19th Century. The soundproofing was not entirely successful.

Much has been written about Carlyle’s life. His marriage has attracted particular scrutiny.

In many respects, the relationship was entirely successful. However, there were significant tensions within the marriage not addressed and resolved for the duration of the union. Neither Carlyle nor his wife was a figure particularly easy to like.

Samuel Butler wrote: “It was very good of God to let Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle marry one another, and so make only two people miserable and not four.”

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