The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO CHARLES REDWOOD ; 5 June 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410605-TC-CR-01; CL 13: 146-147


Chelsea, 5 June, 1841—

My dear Sir,

Your unexceptionable Bottle of Sea-water, and your very kind Letter, arrived here, close on the back of one another, the day before yesterday. No Sea-water need, for practical purposes, be clearer; no letter more hospitable or friendly. Whatever become of our project, I can keep it always in memory, as a thing pleasant to think of in this generally not too hospitable world of ours.

The choosing of summer quarters, which is for most people a pleasant enough business, is for me on this occasion an altogether painful and embarrassing one. Few persons can more dislike indertermination than I; and yet to determine is at present in the highest degree difficult. Not summer quarters alone, but probably a permanent change in residence and way of life: all this hangs on the balance! I have discovered, after very sore experimenting, that I cannot live all the year round in London; that if I decide on continuing here, where many otherwise unknown advantages attend continuing, I must decide also on having some country place of refuge, whither when the fret of this place is like to kill me I can run, and hide me and refit. Two houses;—and hitherto it has been the sternest of problems to keep one tight over head! Besides my cat-like horror of new places; which is always extreme. Probably the place I go to for this season may be my place for many seasons to come. Hence this weighing and counter-weighing; this higgling and cheapening with Destiny,—who has her price, altogether fixed price, for everything, if one could but discover that!

We have the offer of a House (unfurnished) in Dumfriesshire, among my kindred, by the shore of the Solway,—not so clear a sea as yours, but my native one: unfortunately this House is 300 and odd miles off; and is the House of a Lord Queensberry, very slightly known to me, who will not have any “rent” for it,—a somewhat questionable offer. Then we have Tynemouth (Northumberland) in view; which also is within reach of my native district, and a pleasant shore with deep-blue sea, and our friend Miss Martineau now living there. Then too the coast of Sussex offers temptations. And lastly, what perhaps is reasonablest of all, one might get a country cottage in the close neighbourhood of London, in Herts, in Essex, Kent or Surrey; fly out thither straightway; and make that, without sea-water, without travel, waste or commotion, serve one for all the year.— Every one of these arrangements, the Llandough one added to the list, has its promises, its menaces; they are all hanging on the steelyards together; you may fancy what a weighing we have! Hitherto I have decided nothing, except that within the next ten days I must and will decide. For I can heartily begin no work, till I get all that, one way or other put to sleep.

You see therefore how it stands; how I can for the present send you no answer;—that I do not, at least, answer in the negative. No: it seems by no means impossible that I by myself, or perhaps the whole of us (for our whole household is but Two and a maid-servant), may come running over to Cardiff and the solitudes of Wales, which are at least solitary, cheap, and the dwellingplace of one friend,—there to take from you cheerfully whatsoever help it is prudent between honest-hearted men to render or to receive. You need not write again till you hear. Within some ten days, as I said! I wish you could bottle up your wanton horse, and send him hither!

Yours with many friendly thanks,

T. Carlyle.