January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO HENRIETTA MARIA STANLEY ; 31 March 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420331-TC-HMS-01; CL 14: 108-109


Templand, Thornhill, Dumfries 31 March, 1842—

My dear Mrs Stanley,

Many thanks for writing to me; you are always very kind and good. I fear I shall not get away from this melancholy region for a fortnight yet: the young Etonian1 will have gone back to his place, and I shall not make his acquaintance this time either. Surely if I could afford a Boy of yours any guidance or help whatever, it would be a true pleasure to me. The little fellow loves you well, it seems; he is affectionate, ingenuous, modest almost to excess: Nature is generally the chief and best guide of such; and I have remarked that they are apt to prosper, and unfold themselves in spite of every hindrance.

My life here is one of the most entirely solitary now going on under the Sun. Heavy-footed Scotch rustics, with their caution and greed, with their loquacity and cunning, consume in their poor businesses some portion of each of my days: but for the other hours I am alone,—alone as if I were in Hades, no company but God's dumb Earth, and the Spirits of the Departed, which also speak not! Silence alone is noble, godlike; all Speech is comparatively a poor matter. The voice of these old rivers is older than Semiramis or Sesostris;2 my rooks too hold a “parliamentary debate,”—considerably more entertaining than Peel's. Ah me, here again are the old mountains grey with snow-powder; and the black spring tempests, and whirlwinds of shower,—and then the sunshine breaking out pale-bright; like immortal Hope, in this Life of ours, thro' toils and tears! It is all sad, and much more solemn than a Church; but not to be called miserable, perhaps wholesome, happy.—

Pray go down and see my poor Wife: she is still very weak and disconsolate: her Mother, the last Parent, almost the last relative she had, was one worth regretting. She is unwell too, I think. The sight of your bonny face looking kindly on her, will do her good.

I recommend myself to the smallest of all the Stanleys,3 newly arrived on this uncertain Planet of ours; and wish the poor little Stranger a right happy pilgrimage. Her and her Lady Mother—and am ever,

Most faithfully /

T. Carlyle