July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD ; 15 September 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550915-TC-EF-01; CL 30: 67-68


Addiscombe Farm, Croydon 15 Septr, 1855—

Dear Fitzgerald,

I have been here ever since the day you last heard of me; leading the strangest life of absolute Latrappism; and often enough remembering Farlingay and you. I live perfectly alone, and without speech at all,—there being in fact nobody to speak to, except one austerely punctual housemaid, who does her function, like an eightday clock, generally without bidding. My Wife comes out now and then to give the requisite directions; but commonly withdraws again on the morrow, leaving the monster to himself and his own ways. I have Books; a complete Edition of Voltaire, for one Book, in which I read for use, or for idleness oftenest,—getting into endless reflexions over it, mostly of a sad and not very utterable nature. I find V.1 a “gentleman”; living in a world partly furnished with such; and that there are now almost no “gentlemen” (not quite none): this is one great head of my reflexions, to which there is no visible tail or finish. I have also a Horse (borrowed from my fat German friend,2 who is at seabathing in Sussex); and I go riding, at great lengths daily, over hill and dale: this I believe is really the main good I am doing,—if in this either there be much good. But it is a strange way of life to me, for the time; perhaps not unprofitable: To let Chaos say out its say, then, and one's Evil Genius give one the very worst language he has, for a while. It is still to last for a week or more. Today, for the first time, I ride back to Chelsea; but mean to return hither on monday. There is a great circle of yellow light all the way from Shooter's Hill to Primrose Hill,3 spread round my horizon every night, I see it while smoking my pipe before bed (so bright, last night, it cast a visible shadow of me against the white window-shutters); and this is all I have to do with London and its gases for a fortnight or more. My Wife writes to me, there was an awful jangle of bells last day she went home from this; a Quaker asked in the railway, of some porter, “Can thou tell me what those bells mean?”— Well, I suppose something is up. They say Sebastopol is took, and the Rushans run away.”— À la bonne heure [well and good]: but won't they come back again, think you?

On the whole I say, when you get your little Suffolk cottage, you must have in it a “chamber in the wall” for me, plus a pony that can trot, and a cow that gives good milk: with these outfits we shall make a pretty rustication now and then, not wholly Latrappish, but only half, on much easier terms than here; and I shall be right willing to come and try it, I for one party.— — Meanwhile, I hope the Naseby matter is steadily going ahead; sale completed; and even the monument concern making way.4 Tell me a little how that and other matters are. If you are at home, a line is rapidly conveyed hither, steam all the way: after the beginning of next week, I am at Chelsea, and (I dare say) there is a fire in the evenings now to welcome you there. Shew face in some way or other.

And so adieu; for my hour of riding is at hand. 5

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle