October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO JOHN STUART MILL; 10 September 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330910-TC-JSM-01; CL 6:437-440.


Craigenputtoch, 10th September, 1833—

My Dear Mill,

Instead of a Letter you here as sometimes formerly get the mere sham of a Letter; a kind of decoy to induce you to write in return to it. Why I have not sooner replied to your last1 were long to tell: I have spoken more than usual in that interval, yet inwardly was rarely more silent, or had more need of silence. Besides, I almost daily expected to have your arrival announced as at hand. This afternoon there can be but one measured half-hour yours, and that the stupidest of the day. We are very unfortunate.

John tells me you are not coming!2 Thus does the long outlook of two twelvemonths prove to be no Castle of Pleasance, but a mere Aircastle, and vanishes when you lift the knocker! Alas, it is like so much else in this weary Land of Shadows. Our regret I can well assure you is real: but what can we do? Wander on; and see what the next piece of road will yield us. Or is there not still some possibility? It were unfriendly to urge you, if your necessity calls the other way: neither do I; beyond what you see. For one thing, in any case, be more and more diligent in writing; that London and you be still kept in some measure present to me. No Letters, I feel, can be more authentic than yours; there are few relations with any man that could be freer from harm than this with you. Let us do what we can. Another day will bring us together again face to face—I hope, in a much improved condition.

For many years (seven, I think) the Pen has not been so long out of my hand as even now. A multitude of things required and require adjustment in me: it was a great kindness in my destiny too that precisely at this period I could pause without economical inconvenience, the first time I have had any inward wish to pause. I feel sometimes that I am not idle, tho' unemployed to the eye. We shall see what will come of it. In some week or two, however, I shall probably be again at my Desk; according to my old maxim that one should not puzzle, should not speculate, but having got even a little light, go instantly to work with it, that it may become more. I have a general feeling growing of late years that “I am all in the wrong”;—and, by the Devil's malice, shall always have it, for we live in a Dualistic world. Strange how in ourselves, as in all earthly things, a little nucleus of Truth and Good rolls itself on in a huge comet-like environment of Error and Delusion; and yet at length in some degree the Error and Delusion evaporate and vanish (as Nonentities, mere Negations) and the fraction of Good is found to be a reality!

“What shall I teach thee, the foremost thing?”
Couldst teach me off my own Shadow to spring!3

In Heaven, I suppose, we shall have no Shadow; but here, on this Earth, thro' soul and thro' body it goes chacing you at the frightfullest rate.

Emerson, your Presentee, rolled up hither, one still Sunday afternoon while we sat at dinner. A most gentle, recommendable, amiable, whole-hearted man; whom we thank for one of the pleasantest interruptions to our solitude. He staid with us four and twenty hours; and was thro' the whole Encyclopedia with me in that time. A good “Socinian” understanding, the clearest heart; above all what I loved in the man was his health, his unity with himself; all people and all things seemed to find their quite peaceable adjustment with him, not a proud domineering one, as after doubtful contest, but a spontaneous-looking, peaceable, even humble one. I should henceforth learn to see, or see better, that Unitarians are not hollow men, but at worst limited men, and otherwise of the fairest conditions. Their very need of a religion, stron[g]ly evinced in that creed of theirs, should recommend them. One seems to believe almost all that they believe; and when they stop short and call it a Religion, and you pass on, and call it only a reminiscence of one, should you not part with the kiss of peace?

Of Gustave this good Emerson could tell me almost nothing, except that he was at Naples, with seemingly an uncertain aim before him if any. I feel much interest in poor Gustave: of all Saint-Simonians he probably was the truest, his disappointment will be the deepest. Bring me home news of him, if possible; convey to him also my friendliest wishes, if you have opportunity.

John hints briefly that you are for Paris. A different destination from the hitherward one! I shall have a thousand questions to ask; or rather to wish to ask, for most of them will remain unasked. Investigate for me, report to me all that interests yourself most: it is sure of interesting me too. The “Literature of Despair”4 is indeed a desperate one for the present; perhaps also the “Conduct of Despair”: yet both will have their fruit. In the latter at least there is an energy and greatness, which if it spring from Despair, points quite elsewhither. You will also buy some Books? Especially more Mémoires! That Cent-et-un5 I read some volumes of, and beyond the palpablest “Despair” found little in. But facts! Things that were done and endured by men of like passions with ourselves! These are the pabulum one never tires of.

Thank you for your sketch of Grote.6 I know nothing of the Lawyer [you] mention but the name.7 Send me him too if you like, and all persons of any self-subsistency. These are the men I could long to see bodily and commune with: let me at least see them in your Letters, as thro' a glass darkly. Furthermore do not give me the Intellect alone, or nearly alone, but with it the Temper, Humour, even the Trade and Looks. Alles menschichle [menschliche: all mankind] has value for me: I am a most voracious fellow.

Perhaps there will be a Letter from you tomorrow? I shall see from it who is to write again.

My Wife is at Moffat, a watering-place in the East of this County; she is with her Mother and Cousin there for a week, and I the loneliest man your very imagination could figure. I literally do not speak five words a-day. A “Scotch Brownie” of a servant silently provides for me all that I want and more; there is no human being that I have anything to say to. A singular existence! Not without a kind of charm; but happily not to last. Gehab' Dich wohl [Farewell]!

T. Carlyle—

Benevolent Brownie entered with Tea; a silent but peremptory token that the moment had come!

I have read the Poor-Laws Book; and a wonderful thing it is.— Wait till next time!