July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO JANE WILSON; 13 September 1836; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18360913-TC-JWI-01; CL 9:63-64.


Chelsea, London, 13th September 1836

My Dear Miss Wilson,—You are very good to think of me, to ask me down so kindly to see Tunbridge and you. Very loth am I to give up such a prospect, and say to it, ‘Thou also art a Possibility of the impossible sort!’ These three days I have kept the matter hanging; but to-day I must let it fall, and admit to myself that it is a thing not mine.

I have finished that Chapter I was on; and am now (if you know the predicament, which I hope you do not at all) like a conflagration that has gone out in smoke—a very miserable conflagration. To lie hidden and forgotten ‘in vacant interlunar cave’;1 on the whole to feel that you can with a safe conscience be a caput mortuum [dead head] and nonentity. This is the sole blessedness in these circumstances. My wife, who returned about ten days ago, encourages me much to go; but ah me! I feel altogether a ‘man forbid,’2 bewitched very miserably, which indeed in my own way I am; as a man for whom to seek entertainment, pleasure or amusement were a solecism; who must even rise again, and sprawl forward again on this despicability of a journey, till either it be done, or he be done trying to do it. Pity me! And yet as the Scotch say, ‘there are brave days coming’: that also is a hope which never forsakes one.

I can well believe in your beautiful green scenery: you may well wonder at my crabbed reminiscences of Scotch desolation in contrast with that. Men are queer creatures, and this earth is a queer earth in strange relation to them. I have read of Greenlanders that fled from our Europe to get back to their own regions of thick-ribbed ice. I do love England, however, for greenness is actually green; and hope to see it all some day. One of my darling day dreams in these years is that of wandering over the whole world in Tartar fashion; meting it out with steps of my own, taking possession of it as a heritage of mine.3 One feels as if it would prove very remedial, a thing of that kind; as if, communing with the dumb old rocks, man's babblement and madness all left fairly in the rear, it would be well with one!

There is not that I know of any new thing that could interest you here. I had a letter from John Sterling; he expresses himself cheerfully, well contented with his neighbours and environment; but still speaks of a Madeira winter. My wife seems to recover herself daily since she returned. She salutes you and Mr. Wilson with all friendliness.

I have had the article Mirabeau in my hands. Terribly maltreated by the Printers: if I can get a Copy of it before the latter end of this month, I will send it to you. If not, it will be awaiting your return.— Enjoy the fair Autumn; return to us strengthened and refreshed. I recommend myself gratefully to your Brother.—Believe me always,

Dear Miss Wilson, / Yours with great regard, /

T. Carlyle