January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO WILLIAM GRAHAM ; 27 February 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430227-TC-WG-01; CL 16: 62-63


Chelsea, 27th Feb'y, 1843.

My dear Friend,

You wrote me a very kind but Melancholy letter about the New Year time, which I was almost of Mind to write and admonish you about;1 and now another brief, but too emphatic missive announces that a new great sorrow has fallen upon you,—your good Brother lives no more under this sun. Alas, Alas, what are all human sympathies? the friendliest pity of one man for another? It is a great loss that has fallen on you, a bitterness which no sympathy can sweeten. He was your Eldest Brother, I think, the Pioneer of you all in this adventurous life-pilgrimage, and a dark cloud has suddenly hid him from your sight. He is away with God who made us all!

The reflection that can tend to compose a man and Brother in such extremities is this, of the ancient Psalmist we shall go to him, he shall not return to us!2 No, not to us, but we are travelling swiftly towards Him, out of a long Eternity he has but gained a little hour upon us, we have to bow our heads and keep silence, or say only God's great and just will be done.— Your reflections and speculations in the former letter were full of undue gloom. You were wont to be of a cheerful hoping heart, and have often admonished me for my despondences, and what was far nobler, encouraged me under them. I would fain here, if it were in my power, do the like for you. A rational man is bound by all considerations and necessities to look fixedly and with the unspeakable awe into that great Eternity, towards which at all moments he is travelling, and of which his whole earthly work is as it were a symbol, but reverence, not fear or despondence beseems us nevertheless.

My despondences have been many and long continued, and will not quit me while I live, but looking into Eternity, I could never see it to be other than a still home, unknown, but still and safe where the weary were at rest. I consider that we do know nothing more of it, that no man ever did or will know more of it while in this life; and that in all ways our attitude towards it is that of Hope, the very essence of us seems to be HOPE,3 God is love and Hope, I had almost said; we have ever more to trust in God.

My dear friend, you must not let gloomy remembrances, gloomy anticipations overcloud you. On the whole I wish the sun would shine out, that you could get abroad in the fields, to the Hillsides again, look if that be a world made by one unkind to us! I find the green grass and the blue sky worth a thousand homilies to me when in distress.

My hurry in these weeks & months is enormous. I am writing a book again—near done now, let that account for all things.

My true sympathies and regards to Miss Graham,4 God bless you both.

Your affectionate,

T. Carlyle.