The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 11 September 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400911-TC-JAC-01; CL 12: 248-249


Chelsea, 11 Septr, 1840—

My dear Brother,

I may as well write to you without farther delay, that my schemes of Travelling have all gone to nothing; and that I find it will be best for me to sit still here, and ‘silently ruminate sad thoughts,’ for this year!

On Monday last, I was on the point of setting out; detained only by some washings of apparel, and the like, for a day or two: at that time my favourite speculation was thro' Liverpool towards Ardrossan, from which latter point I thought I might probably with small trouble get over to you; and thenceforward accomplish a variety of travel,—see my good Mother beyond and before all. This was my plan.

But the weather grew rainy, cold; I myself was bilious, heartless, solitary and forlorn; I summed up all the smashing and exasperation a poor sleepless creature might count on in short days, long frosty nights: after sad silent meditation and computation I have come to the result that actually here is the place wherein Prudence bids me continue! The heat is quite out of the weather: I have Books here, Solitude here; my one sole palliative or remedy is sitting still;—which why should not I do here first of all? It gives me a right sore heart; but so I do decide. “I can't get out.” I have taken to the reading of things needful, to solitary walks,—avoiding the pestiferous Wen where my life is jailed for these years, I take mostly to the lanes and fields such as they are,—“grieving, by the shore of the” Mother of dead dogs!1 So stands it with me. I lament above all about my dear Mother: but that also I must bear. When I go to her, she is old and weak; I am sick, sleepless, driven half mad: it is better that I stay here, and have beautiful sorrow rather than ugly! I had a Letter from her own good hand this morning;2 I could have wept over it, but there was no good in that. She has some hope of seeing you: pray do you fulfil it if it be at all possible.

In return for all these disappointments, I calculate all the more intensely that if God spare me alive I will spend the whole of next Summer in the Country; I, tho' I should even go to live at Puttoch again for that purpose! I will stay in the peaceable country till I really want to come back to this at present abhorred tumult! I calculate that I shall be writing another Book then; that it will be much easier to write anywhere than here. I am bound to save all the money I can, to enable me to effect this object. You would laugh (perhaps not with much mirth) if you knew all the schemes I turn over in my head, for attaining this unattainable blessing! All country in this neighbourhood is nigh unbearable to me: defaced with green-paint, cockneyism, dust and din,—an abominable aping of country. I want to be far off, solitary, by the shore of the sea. I must have a cheap country too; I should wish to be within a day's journey of my mother. I have thought of the Northumberland Coast; I have thought of the Isle of Man! We shall think yet more about it,—but if in silence all the better.

Meanwhile, thank God, I have again some notions towards writing a Book. Let us see what comes of that. It is the one sole use of living for me.— Enough today, dear Jack. Write to me what you are about, whither to go; and continue loving me. Yours ever

T. Carlyle