October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


TC TO LORD ASHBURTON ; 12 February 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570212-TC-LOA-01; CL 32: 87-89


Chelsea, 12 feby, 1857—

Dear Lord Ashburton,

We are infinitely obliged by your Note: it shook away a considerable mass of darkness out of us; and is the most intelligible definite word we have yet heard on that sad subject.1 I got an ugly whiff of fright out of Venables's2 Letter and the other accounts, which, I know, was not without its basis and reasons alledgeable: nevertheless I have, after all the survey I can make, obstinately decided for confident hope,—with or even against Locock3 (if that were it); for I have next to no faith in Medicine of any kind, as practised at present; and trust only to what dim intimations common sense may give one of the matter.

For one thing, I wish much my Lady and you were safe home again, with such health as there is: that clearly, so soon as the weather can permit, will be a great advantage to us all! We have Spring clearly prophecying itself now: frost and its muddy thaw all off; last monday I dated as the birthday of Spring, the skies and all earth and its winds indicating that glad fact. I was on the heights of Norwood, doing my sombre ride out there; and the universe seemed to rebuke such a mood: “Fool, art thou not still in the Place of Hope? See whether all that has not in it something of Divine!”4 And sure enough the Croydon Heaths, and Addiscom[b]e5 regions generally, had a beauty, a look of kind prophecy upon them. We are to have some wild blasts of weather yet: but a few weeks, a few weeks—!—

My wife had caught new cold (as many have done);6 is still weak as water; yet visibly recovering. I have breakfasted by myself for the last four months.— Lady Sandwich too had become invisible, the last two times I called,—both last week: “a fit of cold,” Miss Farrar7 reports, who is assiduous, and gains admission; “nothing more,” whh we hope will now abate in the better weather.

My writing operations are almost tragical here! No progress that is satisfact;8 incessant slaving night and day,—for an object, in which I have now one interest, that of getting honestly done with it! Inch by inch,—if one stand doggedly to it,—the thing must diminish, must ultimate9 disappear; and go, I know not and care not whither!

Streets have grown suddenly loud and crowded; Parlt, “Collective Folly of the Nation”10 (so in sad truth it pretty much seems to me) having got together again. My rides are now like to be less solitary: other interest in the National Palaver11 I as yet have none. Yesterday little Lord Goderich12 went galloping with me far and wide: a really ingenuous young man, I do hope; who has good honest sense of his own, and is almost the only serious young person of his rank that comes athwart me at all. Lord Grey13 I met twice in Rotten Row;14 extremely eager for news about my Lady, and sharing with me what he had of his own.— Genl Campbell and Sterling whom I have seen just once appear to be stirring up the Military Cesspool at a diligent rate. No such “Army” ever heard of before,—except perhaps in Portugal, in Pombal's time!15 I will write to my Lady in a very short time.—Ever yours,

T. Carlyle