candlestick

January-July 1842


The Collected Letters, Volume 14


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TC TO RICHARD MONCKTON MILNES ; 10 April 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420410-TC-RMM-01; CL 14: 138-140


TC TO RICHARD MONCKTON MILNES

Templand, Thornhill, Dumfries-shire, 10 April, 1842—

My dear Milnes,

Thanks for your castigation of the Vandal Wakley,1 which I have read this morning. The sound of him is as that of one “whose speech is of bullocks”;2 a sound disgraceful to your Commons House, called Honourable. You did well to rebuke him. Nay the “natural man” (whose thoughts indeed are enmity to God) regrets rather that instead of the whip of polished reprimand, it had not been a right leathern dog- or horse-whip, or solid American cowskin: but this, I suppose, the forms of your Hon. House would not permit. Mr Macaulay too finds that his last-year's excursion was on the wrong tack; that even at the risk of smelling of the shop he had better take the common one. This Bill, not so bad a one, seems likely to pass. Thanks for the day of small things.3

I am here these five weeks,—you know on what mournful errand. For the last three weeks and more, I have been as nearly as possible in perfect solitude; alone with my own ugly Self, with my own sorrows and sins which are ugly enough, and God's Universe which is beautiful and terrible ever as of old. It is long since I had a time so like a Sabbath: full of sadness; but not miserable, perhaps almost blessed rather. “Blessed are the Dead”:4 is it not even so?

This night is to be the last of that sort of existence. Tomorrow morning all bursts up into explosion of Packers, Carpenters &c &c; in three days more we have no longer any habitation here. The place that once well knew us “Knows us no more again at all forever.”5

Often in these silent spring days have I remembered where I was last year this time;6 and converted it all into the elegiac figure (very beautiful even so, and perhaps most beautiful so),—as, at any time, not to speak of this time, most things turn to elegy with me: what can I do? Unspoken elegy. This great old Earth, is she not built on silent Graves, overcanopied with silent Stars!7

Perhaps in some ten days more I shall return to those pavements of yours; I look on them from this distance with a kind of shudder. But the end of man is not a thought;8 not a manufacture of unspoken elegies. Allons [Let us go]!

My poor Wife has suffered, and still suffers, from one of the sorest wounds a human heart can experience here below. We have but one Mother; no second is appointed us. If you ever went by Chelsea, it might be a kindness to call for my poor Jane.

Accept at any rate my salutation from the mountains; my blessing and best wishes always.

Yours with affection /

T. Carlyle