January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JOHN STUART MILL ; 11 April 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420411-TC-JSM-01; CL 14: 143-144


Templand, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, / 11 April, 1842—

My dear Mill,

All along I have had a thought of sending you some word of Salutation out of this my solitude: it is in such places and circumstances that Friends far away from us become near, and we have more of their society, in the best sense, than when the distance was hardly as many yards as it is now miles. It is such a torrid Sahara whirlpool, that of London; men's very thoughts cannot meet. Men have no time to think; they have only time to scheme and work! Fate is kind even in its cruelty, to quench down the poor tumults of existence now and then, and render audible to us “the ever-pealing hum of old Eternity”!1

It is long since I have had such a sorrowful but almost sacred kind of season as in these last weeks. Tonight is my last composed evening here: on the morrow all explodes into uproar of Packers, Porters, Auctioneers; and in three days more all has ended,—no habitation for any of us here any more.

My company has been with poor rustic people, on most poor business, spun to the maximum of length on their part, cut short with the maximum of brevity on mine. This done, the day and the night has been all my own; I have roamed by loud-rushing waters, wild solitary hills; gone wandering and musing as I listed, as the hour gave. I have been very sad; but not miserable, far from miserable. There is something infinitely sanative in the sight, face to face, of this great Universe,—God's Universe, as one's whole heart may discern it to be. A divine old Universe, our old mysterious Mother; of which all that can be preached and prated, in the modern and in the ancient time, is but a mockery in comparison to the unspeakable meanings of it. “God is great”: one really can say little more; and ought to keep silence mainly, having admitted that.— —

Your visit to my poor Wife was very kind, and seemed to do her real good. She warmly acknowledged it in her Letter of that day, and remarked how beautiful a thing “humanity coupled with perfect good breeding” was. Thanks to you, for her sake and my own. The little Liverpool Cousin declared herself charmed; had never seen &c &c. If you pass that way again before my return, it will be a new kindness to look-in a second time. This has been a sore wound for my poor little Partner; who is not of nerves to bear such affliction lightly. Her last Parent, almost her last remaining relative:—it is but once that one can lose a Mother. Alas, and how all men, from the beginning of creation, have been as it were born to encounter even that: it is the sharpest of calamities, and the universallest except death only! They are poor prophets that twaddle to me about the benevolence &c of the Creator: as if the unutterable unfathomable Creation had nothing else to do but constitute itself into a Soup-kitchen, and God Most High were mere President of a universal Charity Ball! In no time of history, I think, has such wretched stuff been spoken and snivelled about God,—not even in times when they called him Moloch and Baal. Woden was worthy twenty gods of the sort they have in Exeter Hall.2 Alas, alas!—

But I must quit all that; all that is far from my task at present. In some ten days more I may be in London: shall I not hope to see you straightway? Adieu, dear Mill; I love you always!— T. Carlyle