The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO CHARLES REDWOOD; 23 December 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18501223-TC-CR-01; CL 25: 314-316


Chelsea, 23 decr, 1850—

Dear Redwood,

The Christmas Box has duly arrived, an hour or two after your Note: all safe and right;—opulent in wholesome sapid materials; a friendly memento of one that is kind to us always on his distant coast; to whom be all thanks for this and much other goodness! How can this, or anything else I have ever experienced from that friendly shore of the Bristol Channel, awaken other than kind thoughts? Nothing that was not worthy of recognition and admiration ever met me from that quarter. A “patience” especially which had no limits, dwells most in my memory at present. I declare I feel often ashamed. For indeed I was as near the nadir, last time, as I have almost ever been in life; and probably you never did communicate with a creature more sick and heavy-laden of body and of soul than I was, and proved myself now and then to be, on my last visit to you. Oh, Heaven! But I will try to grow better;—at any rate I will pray to have friends as tolerant as the Boverton one; and be thankful, under my dark sky, for this and the other kindly-shining star!— That green lawn, little Dumpy's excellent hot coffee, the morning and evening sun, the very chanticleers and jackasses: all is getting quite a beautiful, and pathetic and poetic colour with me, in that Welsh “scene of memory.” Soft fall the weather on it, and nothing but good be there, whether I come back or not! Llanntwit, St Donat's, the green network of intricate lanes, the mouldering dumb ruins, vigorous living vegetations good and bad; the vacant stony shores watched by Billy Jones, and big Ocean-melody that sings and groans forever: how can I ever forget these things?—

I continued very sickly after leaving you, and got little but endless chagrin, and misery too sensible only to myself, all the time I staid in Scotland, and after it, during other excursions I had to make on my way homewards, and beyond home,—for my wife was absent when I first came here, and I had to join her for three weeks among gay people in Hampshire; and did not get finally home till towards the end of September; as sick, according to all indexes of personal sensation, as when I had left. A hopeless thing this of ministering to an Incurable! For many weeks at home I continued the same dreary course; and not till very lately began to feel a decided settlement of turbulences; and a sterner (but not less beautiful) kind of Cosmos beginning to announce itself amid that horrid Chaos again. Cosmos stern as Death itself (for it is, in some sense, what they call Death) but beautiful also as Eternity and the inexpugnable Realm of the Gods.— — Unhappily a wretched “Dinner-party,” of the most unwholesome and unpleasant sort, the other evening, has for the present quite overset me again; and all is slush and scandalous mud as before, till we rally again! Of such stuff are poor human creatures made.

I do not enter much into the “Papal Aggression” affair;—tho' I am Protestant enough to view it with equanimity, and even with a kind of goodwill it seems to me the old Pope ought really to be warned that he is out of the game, for one; that after having beaten out his brains for 300 years, with Cromwellian and other hammers,1 we do expect he will now die! If the poor English people can do this, I shall not be sorry. But if they fail to do it, and whatever they do or fail to do, I shall understand that windbag knocked against windbag will infallibly further the collapse of things inflated; and so, in any case, the Papal Aggression is grist to my mill.— — I write nothing in these months, nor have any prospect of writing; but do suppose that, if I live, there may come such a ti[me] again. God bless you always, dear Redwood. Yours ever truly T. Carlyle