candlestick

July 1836-December 1837


The Collected Letters, Volume 9


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


TC TO JANE WILSON

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