The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD; 17 December 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18501217-TC-EF-01; CL 25: 308-309


Chelsea, 17 decr, 1850—

Dear Fitzgerald,

Thanks for your friendly human Letter; which gave us much entertainment in reading (at breakfast-time the other day), and is still pleasant to think of. One gets so many in-human letters, ovine, bovine porcine &c &c.: I wish you would write a little oftener; when the beneficent Daimon suggests, fail not to lend ear to him.

We are looking forward to a pleasant evening or two when you get to Town:—a melancholy errand, indeed; but, as you see, there is good in all things! By no means fail us. Any evening, almost any evening or day. I quit my pretended studies here daily between 2 and 3 o'clock, and go out to walk in idleness,—if that hour happen to suit you. At 5 there is some kind of dinner of herbs;1 fit for the dyspeptic constitution; suitable potluck for an abstemious philosopher that happens to be passing: tea is at 7, and there burns a fire upstairs for narcotic nicotian purposes. We are hardly ever out; nor, alas, are my employments almost ever of a kind which it is not proper to interrupt!—

I left these parts in the very end of July, and fled into S. Wales, by Bath and Bristol; one of the most thoroughly down-broken mortals; seeking rest in this world, and knowing beforehand that there was none, most likely, to be found. A visiting man, with his liver all gone to wreck, is a terrible fellow in these epochs of the world! Sir Lytton Bulwer would really do well to build some Diversorium [small lodging], Hospitium [Inn], or the like Establishment, with an old dumb cleanly woman in it, and no cocks within earshot, for poor creatures in that situation, that they might repose there for a week or two on occasion.2 But he won't; no one will.— I fled out of Wales, after 3 weeks or more, dumb, opening not my mouth; fared along, under varieties of horrors, to my Mother's house in Annandale, and there flung myself down,—sorry only that I could not lie down in silence forever. Such a business is the brewing of Latter-Day Pamphlets in a heart otherwise given to acidity. I went no farther than the Border; did nothing while there but saunter over the moors, or lie idle by the side of brooks: in about a month I had again to move; came over to Cumberland, saw Tennyson, the Speddings, and numerous to me insignificant or even impertinent “Pikes” of Langdale, Pikes and Fells and Becks of this and that;—and in a day or two more, got packed into the Express Train, and after about 10 hours of screaming clangour, and chaotic raging Dissonance which I think might fit the Devil for dinner-music (if he were in want of such a thing),—was shot out at Euston Square, and so ended the Northern part of my tour. We were in Hampshire three weeks more: and at the end of all, I could not say that I was in the least better; but now after two months of almost continual silence and isolation, I do begin to feel sometimes a little more composed. Ay de mi! But it is pusillanimous to lament; so I will say no more, but hope the gods will give me again some bit of work to do: it is really all the amends one can get of this perverse world,—which at any rate is so rapidly taking itself away, and making us rid of its perversities and shortcomings! Mrs Alfred is a very nice creature, cheerful, good-mannered, intelligent, sincere-looking: Alfred and she, I since hear, are in these parts, “looking for houses”; but I have seen nothing of them since.3 James Spedding was as much the philosopher as ever, and as fond of tobacco: Tom I found labouring under some misgivings as to certain Pamphlets, and still obstinately disposed to hope that the world wd mend itself; otherwise well and happy. Adieu, dear F. Come and let us denounce “the Papal Aggression” together.

Yours ever, /

T. Carlyle