January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JULIUS CHARLES HARE ; 4 April 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420404-TC-JUCH-01; CL 14: 118-119


Templand, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, 4 April, 1842—

My dear Sir,

Word comes from Chelsea that, among other arrivals, there is that of a Book or Pamphlet “from Archdeacon Hare”;—something of your own writing, as I anticipate, which can be read with pleasure when one returns.1 Accept kind thanks beforehand for such a proof of your friendly remembrance,2 which cannot be other than valuable to me.

I am here, far North, on a very mournful business. My Wife's good Mother, once the hospitable mistress of this house, has been unexpectedly summoned away by Death, and left it all vacant, doleful, and as if suddenly fallen into ruin. It used to be so loud with cheerful welcomes and hospitality; and now I have it all to myself; I stay here getting it as swiftly as possible abolished and put an end to—Τελος: what a word is that,—which we have often to say! My poor Wife, whose last Parent, almost last blood-relative this was, had started from a sickroom on the first news of danger; travelling all night she was met at her uncle's door in Liverpool by the news that all was already over. She stopt there; she is now home again with one of her cousins: you may fancy in what mood.

Sterling, whom one's thought often follows in these nights over the seas, informs me that you too have been visited by Death; that a dear Brother, and one who deserved to be dear, lies hidden from you, suddenly, under sad circumstances, in a foreign grave.3

What can we say? Face to face with such Events, all human Speech sinks dumb; owns that it is naught, inadequate, and like a mockery to the great unspeakable Fact. “Thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away.”4 Had all miracle (as in these brutish ages it nearly has) faded utterly away out of Life, this is forever a miracle, even to the very brutes. God is great: the Dead are with God, even as we the Living are! We have no more to say.——

I live a strange sabbath life here, for these four weeks: in perfect solitude for most part; alone with the Hills and Rivers, with the old Earth and her Heaven,—with her Stars and her Graves.

Und schwer und schwerer/ Hängt eine Hülle
Mit Ehrfurcht. Stille
Ruhn oben die Sterne
und unten die Gräber.5

“Silent, rest over us the Stars and under us the Graves!” Both of these rest, silent;—and all Histories and Gospels Epics noisily do their part between both these. Is man ever out of a Temple while he lives,—the Stars silent above him, the Graves silent below!—But in the presence of such Silences let me cease speaking.

Did I ever tell you that our Scotch version of the Psalms, which you have republished with some polishing, and reckon justly far the best, is properly an English version? It was done, as I find, by old Francis Rouse, a Cornish Scholar, Puritan and Parliamenteer, under the auspices of the Westminster Assembly; “appointed to be sung in Churches,” which appointment all but the Scotch have long since forgotten. Rouse was of the Long Parliament, was Speaker of the one called Barebone's Parliament, and finally Provost of Eton: in the Prints of him he has dark deep eyes, and a revered, resolute countenance,—honour to Sir Francis.6

Adieu my dear Sir. In two weeks more, I shall be at home: will you not call for me when you come to London?

Yours with true regard /

T. Carlyle