The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JOHN STERLING ; 9 August 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400809-TC-JOST-01; CL 12: 219-221


Chelsea, 9 Augt, 1840—

Dear Sterling,

Yesterday, at my return home from foreign parts, I found waiting for me among several messages one which concerns you in some slight degree; namely, “a poor lithograph,” so Emerson the New-Englander calls it, “of Concord Battle-field and Village.” Two copies of the thing had come: one is for me; the other, “as Sterling seems to be of more nomadic habits,” I am to request Sterling to accept as a particle of the unexplored spaces where friends of his dwell and love him. The Print includes Emerson's Grandfather's house, “under the trees near the monument,” where E. himself once lived. His present residence is not in the field of the Picture.1 The “monument” seems to stand where the first English soldier fell in the American War of Independence.— I will roll the thing together, and leave it with your address at your Father's. As a print it is worth nothing; but as the shadow of a Friend's residence far over the ocean water it is worth something.

My surprising expedition, as you already guess, has been accomplished; I have “ridden into England,” and am safe back! My course proved not to be towards Stonehenge, but to Leatherhead and thence to Herstmonceux and Julius Hare. My eyes and brains were as if roasted out of me by the blazing heat: I spent my days, astride of the mare Citoyenne, in unfathomable mournful meditation, speechless colloquy with the green pleasant fields and everlasting skies, voll Unmuth, Sehnsucht, wehmuth und verdruss [full of gloom, longing, sadness, and vexation], and such other sable humour as goes with me everywhere, post equitem sendens [sic].2 I often longed for Sterling; it is not good for the riding man to be alone. I loved Hare, and his pleasant dwelling place; his good sister-in-law was good to me:3 we saw the residence, now empty, of the late revd John Sterling, and had much talk incidentally (for Blackwood too arrived while I was there)4 about that singular Christian man. On the whole I have got myself horribly tired and burnt; but fancy I have laid up something out of my enterprise, and would not, for a greater price of pain, have forborne it. One gets nothing in this world except by tabling the price for it. My ride over and round Leith Hill, and thro' the woody solitudes of that region, was well worth a headache and heartache: I shall never forget some glimpses I have had there and elsewhere. Ach Gott, mein Freund [Oh God, my Friend]! if one could speak like the tornado, sing as the Spheres do, it were worth while breaking silence! I mention finally that I saw St Dunstan's tongs, with which he grasped the Devil's nose; nay I struck on his anvil,5 and made it ring again, with this right hand. Allah akbar.

Hare is here today, preaching at Thirlwall's Consecration.6 I met Thirlwall, since his episcopation, one day in Pall Mall: he professes great reluctance &c; indeed I can well conceive the Nolo episcopari [unwillingness to be a bishop] had a certain truth in his case. I think him a right solid, manful, robust-hearted character. We shall see what in these extraordinary circumstances he will do.— Fling me a line, if you can!

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle