August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO CHARLES REDWOOD ; 27 December 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18431227-TC-CR-01; CL 17: 217-218


Chelsea, 27 decr, 1843—

My dear Sir,

Your Welsh good things, which arrived safe on Saturday last, remind us very pleasantly of the kind friend that thinks of us over in those Silurian regions.1 Many thanks for your unwearied ever-watchful goodwill.

The little quiet hollow among the Hills, with the trim house and kind good people there; the Llans and Egglises,2 the old ivy castles and innocent grey straggling hamlets, the narrow “perilous” Lanes, the roaring seabeaches, high light-towers, and other strange Welsh scenes where I wandered, like a homeless inconsoleable Ghost on its travels, in the bright autumn weather: all this rises now upon my memory as one of the kindliest pictures,—a section of some extramundane Country situated in the Land of Dreams. Blessings on it, and on those that dwell there! If there were any rest for the wicked, I might rest in some such place:—but there is no rest; there is no place or possibility of such: “the wicked (and indeed also the righteous many times) are tossed to and fro.”3— I will send my compliments to Madge Wildfire at any rate; and wish I had her here, lodged in a bandbox, to take out when I pleased and gallop upon.

My adventures since you heard last of me have not been very illustrious; have been far enough from prosperous, or unduly victorious. My health is changed from what it used to be,—I sometimes think, for the better, sometimes for the worse. An addition of inaptitude to sleep is very clearly of the latter character; but all the symptoms do not point to that bad side of the account. An increased tendency to laziness is perhaps not altogether the effect of health,—nor, alas, perhaps of vice in any kind, but of misfortune! No work I ever undertook prospers so ill with me as this of the Puritans History For indeed none other was ever so difficult. It lies buried under two hundred years of stupidity and atheistic brutality, this noble object that I wish to raise up into life again, such life as still does belong to it; and my endeavours therefore are very slow to tell. Ten days ago I made a fresh burnt-offering; cast, namely, into the fire, once for all, the fruit of many a long week of diligent writing: and again I am at the thing on another side. There is no use in heaping new torpedo4 stuff on the back of those poor Heroes and their memory: if one cannot write something that is alive about them, one can at least and lowest hold his tongue. It will be a long dreary enterprise; like to be rewarded as Puritanism itself was: nevertheless I do not abandon it; I repeat often to myself: “Peter of Russia built Petersburg, the imperial hightowered City, on a bottomless Bog of the Neva; 170,000 men had to die first in draining the Neva Bog, before the first stone of Petersburg could be laid. Courage!”—

When you come to London, do not neglect to apprise us; to come and apprise us in person.

I live in the utmost attainable solitude here at present; the babble of this thoughtless population does but distract me in what I am after;—the babble of men generally is but a filling of the one man with sound and hearsay, to the exclusion of sincerity, fact and substance.

Good be with you, a faithful spirit and a healthy body, in the work you yonder have got to do. My kindest remembrances to your good Mother.

Once more, with thanks and friendly regards,

Yours ever truly,

T. Carlyle