April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO CHARLES REDWOOD ; 31 December 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18441231-TC-CR-01; CL 18: 308-309


Chelsea, 31 decr, 1844—

My dear Sir,

Your Christmas Gifts, kindly reminding us once more of a friendly presence over in the West, arrived with the old punctuality: what can we return you, except many thanks! The “festive season,” if now good for little else, is good and praiseworthy for reminding friends of one another.

We are labouring somewhat here under the pressures of the season. My Wife has been prisoner with a cold and sorrowful set of colds, these four or five weeks; I too have not entirely escaped, but am now nearly free again. We have been rather solitary of late; which is of all states the wholesomest for me.

I am very busy; with very bad success. It is a useless thing for me to talk about this sad enterprize of mine; I often remember Goethe who “made a point of keeping all his enterprizes secret.”1 Much better for me, had I too done so,—to which indeed my inclination, did convenience otherwise serve, would lead me! It often seems to me as if I should never get this work on Cromwell done; at other times, it seems as if I should one day or other! Nobody can help me. I must plunge along, floundering thro' the abysses; try to get to land if I may. This grappling, breast to breast with ungainly realities, with the ‘horrors of chaos’ and the ‘stupidities of two hundred years,’—alone, all alone,— makes a man very savage! The only help is to work away;—and say nothing.

One Scheffer, a famed Painter at Paris, sent me lately a Mask of the face of Goethe; which gives me a strange lively impression of what the man veritably was;—and is very affecting to me when I look earnestly on it. I should have so liked to see the living face of the one man whom I did reverence in my generation; and this, strange living-dead thing, is all I get of it.

I have still the vividest remembrance of Llandough; indeed I could emboss it all, and make a facsimile of it. The silent village on the hill-top, the whole silent friendly green locality, comes strangely into my mind in these tumults and roaring streets. Whether I shall ever see it again is very uncertain but we need not say absolute No;—we need not be harder than the Fates themselves are.

Pray give from me many kind remembrances and real wishes to your good Mother. Accept for yourself many thanks and grateful regards; and believe me ever

Yours very sincerely /

T. Carlyle