August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO GERALDINE E. JEWSBURY ; 13 October 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421013-TC-GEJ-01; CL 15: 127-128


Chelsea, 13 Octr, 1842.

Dear Miss Jewsbury,

Your two savoury Gifts, redolent with noble bitter fragrance, are both here. Thanks to you for remembering me in that way,—in any way. I will keep the “two tobaccos” (as our tavern-waiters say) very carefully, and only use a little of them on great occasions. The Cavendish used to be well known to me, the other choice sort is a stranger:—alas, on the whole, I have long quitted the vain hunt after choice tobacco,—would to Heaven one could even get honest commonplace York-returns1 tobacco! But that too is impossible; impossible as “happiness” itself is: wherefore, in later times, I have resigned myself to dishonest York-returns, adulterated with “sugar,” with—the Devil and the Smuggler and the Thousand-per-cent Taxgatherer know what; and have said, and mournfully soliloquized, “Well then, I will smoke bad tobacco for the remaining years of my life; but it shall be in composure, and without Ernulphus-cursing2 of it any more!”— — Seriously, I could get abundant affliction out of all these things, did I not resign myself. I enter no shop for any article of human industry whatever, but I see in the poor false stare of a shopkeeper, in the flimsy, ever-shifting, edge-gilt and inwardly rotten condition of all the wares he has, an emblem of the whole ruin of those wretched Quack Ages,—fast hastening (as you may see in Manchester and else where) into some kind of Fire-bath even now: either a refining Furnace (which indeed I hope and know), or else into that other Furnace, which shall be nameless,—for the Earth, grown weary and grown sulky, cannot be burdened with them much longer! Here is a “Thus think and smoke Tobacco” for you! All men would laugh at me, even you would laugh, did I express what thoughts any one of those things will awaken in me:—thoughts therefore which “it is interesting not to state,”3 but to shut up in one's improved Dutch tobacco-box, and keep safe there!—

Jane has had a cold, not yet entirely gone; and is still in weak case, but gradually gathering strength and composure, as I hope.4 Our good little cousin returns to Liverpool this week.

As for me, I am down among the Ghosts and Infernal Gods, in the deep places of CHAOS; uncertain whether ever I shall get up to air and utterance again or not,—most likely not. Oliver Cromwell has long been a ghost; and the very gods withstand his taking body again! I have wished a hundred times I had never heard of him, for my part.

Adieu, dear Miss Jewsbury. I wish I could help you in your brave life-battle; but I cannot; nobody can. Stand to it yourself, with courage, truthfulness, above all with that far hardest kind of courage—patience. When one is miserable, one in very truth ought to say: “Well then; it is well!” A great instruction lies in that; the highest sort of instruction. I send you my blessings, if they were good for anything.

Yours very truly /

T. Carlyle