The Sage of Chelsea – Thomas Carlyle

Posted by: on Mar 14, 2011 | No Comments

At the suggestion of Mr. Nick Foulkes, whose opinion on all things Victorian should hardly be ignored, I shuttled myself off to Chelsea today to visit the house of Thomas Carlyle.  In a small row-house in that then unfashionable corner of West London, one of the greatest minds of the nineteenth century churned out some of the most critical and comprehensive tomes ever written. Now the fashionable flats, complete with local gastropubs and shoe shops, would make the man wretch.

Carlyle was a man of many opinions, who did not in any way hesitate to express them.  His influence is traceable into every crack and crevice of the thinkers who immediately followed him, and the simply-decorated parlour on Cheyne Row saw Dickens, Wilde, Mill, and countless others take tea and conversation with the Sage.

It makes one reflect, standing in a room filled wall-to-wall with leather-bound books in varied languages and origins.  A brilliant albeit eccentric scholar, Carlyle needed absolute silence to work and generally preferred to be away from society.  If Mrs. Carlyle hadn’t been so insistent, he would have been perfectly content remaining in the Scottish countryside.  If only he had, I might have been able to afford a flat in Chelsea.

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