January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JOHN STERLING ; 14 March 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420314-TC-JOST-01; CL 14: 72-73


Templand, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, 14 March, 1842—

Dear Sterling,

You have heard, I believe, what tragedy has occurred here; a sudden stroke grievous to Friends of yours: I would have written specially to you an eight days ago, but that I knew your good Mother was to apprise you of what was essential; and then ever since my quitting London, I have been, and still am, driven about in a continual whirl, destructive to all composed expression of thoughts—which do not in any case well fit themselves to utterance in words. Death is great; there is nothing else in Life that, in these days and in all days, still asserts itself as a miracle to the senses and hearts of all men.

My poor Wife has had a severe wound. The event was as good as entirely unexpected: her Mother was one of the kindest of women, whose faults were all of the surface, whose virtues came from instinct and lay deep: the poor Daughter has now no parents, hardly any kindred that was dear to her;—a lonely outlook. Time alone can in some measure assuage such a feeling. Human sympathies too are always a medicine.

She is to get back to Chelsea, so soon [as]1 her Liverpool Uncle (the last Uncle she now has, a good kind son of Nature) gets home from this place; which he expects to do about Wednesday: Jane will probably be home about the end of the week. One of her female cousins whom she likes well is to attend her. You know, I suppose, that she had got as far as Liverpool on the first summons of danger; and that at Liverpool the fatal tidings stopt her. There she still continues. I have got a Note or two, very quiet, but very mournful, very desolate. Pray write a word to her with your first opportunity, tho' I should wait the longer.

There remain here many matters, of a most alien nature, for me to settle. I shall have to take time, and deliberate. My first longing is for absolute solitude; that I might be left to myself and my own thoughts in the middle of these wild hills, and winds. All other discourse at first is poor. The great Earth with her sounding streams and change of seasons; she is still there, and another Life has been absorbed into her mysterious bosom,—stern as very Death, yet beautiful also and true as Heaven and Life. Silence, Silence!—

One of the last things I read was your Article for the F. Quarterly;2 which I liked very much, bating perhaps a little rashness of phraseology here and there. You will write many other articles, I hope; and sound a message into the ears of some. Adieu, dear Sterling; good be ever with you.

Your affectionate /

T. Carlyle