August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO CHARLES REDWOOD ; 27 September 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430927-TC-CR-01; CL 17: 140-142


Chelsea, 27 Septr, 1843—

My dear Sir,

Your kind Letter found me still in Scotland: it is not yet much more than a fortnight since I returned, by aid of a Dundee Steamer, thoroughly sick of travelling, and more entirely wearied in body and mind than I ever felt in my life before.

The Bishop's Palace1 did not hold me long; I went away, glad to have seen it and its owner, yet saying to myself, “Here is not my rest!” A long days driving brought me round to Gloucester; a night truly horrible, in an Inn full of Lawyers (for I fallen again into the wake of Assizes), and then another busy day, procured me a glimpse of Worcester Battlefield as well as the localities of Gloucester Siege; and without any new attempt to sleep, I was in Liverpool, ready to take North Wales on that the accessible side of it. North Wales on any side did not please me greatly: a country of mist, barrenness and rain; of scraggy bare bleak moors, crumbling cottages unhappy-looking people; to which the few slate chasms with their torrents, infested all of them by the vermin of “the Picturesque,” were but a poor offset! I was on Snowdon top; but unhappily might as well have lain in my bed under nightmare; the mist had swallowed all things; hardly even would a cigar take fire in the bitter tempestuous damp: one came down to “the Grave of Gellert,”2 with wearied bones, and a sense that Snowdon was a failure Terrible “Welsh wettings” also were provided us on other occasions; wettings equivalent to steeping in the Ocean! Some beautiful things, Menai Bridges, queer old cities, precipices and cathedrals, do rest in my memory, struggling as yet to evolve themselves out of the clouds and discomforts: but on the whole I was glad enough to quit Wales and the trade of Picturesque Tourist both together; and, in a very silent mood, get across the Solway, and take shelter beside my Mother. Three weeks there, passed as far as possible in silence, were, except the other similar three weeks at Llandough, by far the best I had in my travels I declined Cumberland; declined several things. A “sense of duty,” a really painful sense at least, took me round by Dunbar Battleground, and thereupon by Edinburgh, Fife, and old friends in that region of the world;—among whom, also I had to live as one half-alive, denizen not of Earth, but of Hades and Chaos;—making naturally the greatest haste to get away! It was real relief to me to sit down with a cigar on the deck of the Steamer, and say to myself, “Now, by the Eternal Powers, I will at least speak no more, for some time!” A horrible brute of a horse, higher than Madge Wildfire,3 and too unlike her in all respects, fell plump down with me, on plain road, while I was in Fife; a feat I cannot yet forget: the fruits of it in those hours were a real addition of annoyance to me. After unheard-of meditations, I did get home to Chelsea at last, found my good Wife well, and all bright as a new guinea here: continual lying on sofas, and the most absolute donothingism, such has been my employment ever since. On a larger scale than ever heretofore I have convinced myself that I cannot travel. To judge by actual sensation of the moment, I do not seem to have gained in health, but to have lost; nevertheless there is a kind of deeper intimation in me that some slight improvement does lie ready for developing itself; that, had those tumultuous mud-billows once subsided, some increase of fertility and solidity will be apparent. London is at present the quietest of all places for me; all men gone out of it, or nearly all whom I have the slightest knowledge of. As health clears up, Conscience too will arouse herself, with cockatrice sting: I shall have to do one of two things, get to work or grow mad! May the gods turn it to good.—

Llandough I cannot forget while I live; but it seems to me at this moment impossible that I should ever visit it again. Good be with you all there, ye true ones! Your good, quiet Mother, clear and venerable to me; the simple faithful Jones and James;4 the daisy-rake, the beehive, porch-seat, hill, trees, and meadow: all that, and the friendly owner of all that, remains forever a possession to me.

On the whole you must bid me prosper in my work,—for that is the one salvation or alleviation possible to me. You must remember me with tolerance; you must come and see us when you get to London. And so Vale mei memor [Farewell and remember me].

T. Carlyle.