The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO ROBERT BROWNING ; 29 July 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410729-TC-RB-01; CL 13: 203-204


Newby, Annan, N.B. 29 july, 1841—

My dear Sir,

Lest you chance to have the trouble of a fruitless journey to Chelsea, and so be discouraged from coming back, I had as well apprise you straightway that your loyal-minded, welcome little Note finds me not there but here,—on the Scotch shore of the Solway Frith; I might say, on the very beach, amid rough sea-grass and gravel; remote from all haunts of articulate-speaking men; conversing with a few sea-mews alone, with the ocean-tides and gray moaning winds! I have fled hither for a few weeks of utter solitude, donothingism and sea-bathing; such as promised to prove salutary for me in the mood I was getting into. London in the long run would surely drive one mad, if it did not kill one first. Yearly it becomes more apparent to me that, as man “was not made to be alone,”1 so he was made to be occasionally altogether alone,—or else a foolish sounding-board of a man, no voice in him, but only distracted and distracting multiplicities of echoes and hearsays; a very miserable and very foolish kind of object!

My Wife is here too, with her maid; a wondrous little cabin of a “furnished cottage,” built as if expressly for us, has been discovered here; a savage of the neighbourhood even takes charge of a horse; Annan a sufficient little Burgh stands but two miles off, and yet our place is lonely (owing to its ugliness), lonely as if it were on the coast of Madagascar;—a place altogether as if made for us! Thank God, there are still some places ugly, if that is the price of their loneliness!— We are to continue here for some four weeks yet; and do not count certainly on Cheyne Row again till the last hope of sunshine, perhaps in the end of September, have abandoned us for this year. Pray observe the date; and let us hope we may actually see you then.

The spirit you profess is of the best and truest: perhaps one man only, yourself only, could do much more for you than I who can do nothing, but only say with all my heart, Good Speed! Doubt it not at all, you will prosper exactly according to your true quantity of effort,—and I take it you already understand that among the “true quantities of effort” there are many, very many which the “public,” reading or other, can simply know nothing of whatever, and must consider as falsities and idlenesses, if it did. But the everlasting Heart of Nature does know them, as I say; and will truly respond to them, if not today or tomorrow, then some day after tomorrow and for many and all coming days. Courage!2

With much goodwill, / Yours very truly always

T. Carlyle

R. Browning Esq