January 1835-June 1836

The Collected Letters, Volume 8


TC TO WILLIAM GRAHAM; 25 September 1835; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18350925-TC-WG-01; CL 8:214-215.


Chelsea, 25th September, 1835

My dear Friend,

What a mournful piece of news is this you tell me! So sudden; final: a little week; and there is no return forevermore in Time! He was one of the best-conditioned men, the good William Johnstone,1 I have ever known. The loss to you will be great; and yet that is small to what the poor lady has to suffer. I hope she can make arrangements for leaving Grange thro' winter? The gloom of these solitary hills will be all too gloomy for her. A hearth may blaze bright, where we have all sat; but the kind face it enlightened is not there, is hidden—! O it is an unutterable business this life of Man; begirt with Death, with Judgment and Eternity. Ever, as from the beginning, “Man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets.”2

You were perfectly correct to an iota in your theory about my silence.3 I had determined to deny myself all privilege of complaint to you till the evil was remedied. After the toughest battle, I got the wretched thing accomplished precisely on Monday last,4 the day before you wrote to me. It is worth little; but the being done with it is worth almost life to me. That was simply the ugliest task ever hitherto set me to do in the world.

Our Scotch summer jaunt has gone, like so much else, over to the Impossibles. No July day on Burnswark sheds its brightness over us; the smoke and smoulder of London Brick, hot and choking as one huge Brick-kiln, was allotted me instead.

However, I am bent for seeing Scotland after all. It has carried me on thro' this business; and I will not balk myself. I write in breathless haste today; being just on the wing westward towards Wapping and that region, in search of a conveyance to Edinburgh or Newcastle. The sea seems less horrid to me than the New Patent Fast coach for twenty-six hours long;—a thing that the Inquisition of Spain might have taken a hint from. To this moment I can predict with no certainty what way I shall come; but one thing seems certain, that, if accident befall not, I will come; that you shall see me in some eight or ten days. The people will be all busy with their untoward harvest, and the good weather gone; nevertheless one will get rest, this frightful din will cease pealing in one's ears and soul for a week or two. I have a kind of passion to see green fields again; the jingle of a clear trotting Brook were worth all other music to me. It is as if you had been spun round for sixteen months with a preternatural velocity on some immeasurable whirligig (of a London City, with its million-and-half all scrambling together); and now begged of Heaven and of Earth one blessing: that of being “well let alone.”5

Mrs. Welsh being with us these last three weeks or more, and to stay till I return, my wife does not go with me. She too has suffered much from the Summer; and is very poorly, but recovering. She brought me up your letter this morning, and said it contained “sorrowful tidings.” She sends her kind regards to Burnswark in general.

In some ten days then!——

Ever faithfully, /

T. Carlyle