January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO [SIR GEORGE SINCLAIR OR AN UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT] ; 3 October 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18591003-TC-SGSOUC-01; CL 35: 224-225


Chelsea, 3 octr, 1859—

My dear Sir,

At length I reach home, two days ago, after a longer absence than I almost ever made before: I find your little Ms. Volume1 lying safe on my table, as I had reason to expect; and surely I am much obliged by your goodness to me, by your [p]atience with me! It is shameful that I did not answer your successive Letters sooner which indeed were very welcome to me, in spite of such treatment! But perhaps there are excuses too, if you knew my fluctuating totally idle and waste course of life while rusticating in those old scenes. I avoided all speech that was not inevitable; had no companion but my Horse; and maintained no dialogue except the sombre inarticulate unfathomable one with those old rocks and seas. We came no farther Northward than Fife; paid no visits wh[ile] on the road to or from. I hope we may have gathered, both of us, a little strength; but it is no great matter,—far too little for the steep hill that now lies close ahead again.

It does not appear to me hitherto that the History of Fredk can be written; that I, or any mortal, can make a human Book of it to Englishmen of this day. So inhuman has it grown, under the continual manipulation of stupid men; so inhuman (in another kind) have they grown under do! If one cannot write it, one can let it lie unwritten? That will be a sorry condition too. On the whole, one must do one's very utmost bad-best,—& had better, for this reason, hold one's peace in the interim.

If I ever live to get thro’ this Book, I mean to see all my Friends once more, with a great deal of composure; and not to undertake any work farther for the rest of my time in this world.—— — Meanwhile I will at any rate look into this Ms. Volume by my earliest leisure; and safely return it so soon as finished. With many thanks & regards

Yours sincerely,

T. Carlyle