January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO CHARLES REDWOOD ; 12 May 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420512-TC-CR-01; CL 14: 187-188


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea / London, 12 May, 1842—

My dear Sir,

Your friendly message reached me far away in the North; whither a sad event, the unexpected death of my good Mother-in-law, had called me; and where the consequences of that have detained me, in dreary “final settlements” &c, till a few days ago. I have passed two months among the mountains, in a most slow-moving series of the lowest prosaic businesses, and such stern poetry as my own solitary thoughts and the spring storms and sunbursts could yield there, in a mood like that. “One generation passeth away and another cometh; but the Earth abideth forever,”1—at least for a much longer time! Perhaps these mournful months, seemingly all empty and silent, have not been without their uses to me.

Unless the Summer grow absolutely too hot for endurance here, I feel now as if I must try to continue in London. “Not in thy condition but in thyself lies the mean impediment”2—how true always! True whether the impediment be want of health, want of money, or whatever want; for always at bottom one's want is and continues a want of wisdom, of discernment to see and fidelity to do; there is on the whole no other want at all!— Summer solitudes and sea breezes would indeed be grateful to me, but even these would not bring healing; nay the true healing itself (getting heartily to work, namely) is of the nature of a new disease! So we name it, in our cowardice of heart. We are born to toil; and this in our poltroonery, finding it not joyous but grievous, we name “misery” &c &c.

Meanwhile if I do run into the country, Glamorganshire and your kind neighbourhood appears now among the likeliest places. My poor Wife, who has suffered greatly in these sad weeks, is still very feeble; she cannot for the present think of Scotland, and may perhaps prove a new impulse westward before the Sun depart again. We shall see.

You, if you come to London, are specially requested not to omit calling here. We strive to keep ourselves in the utmost possible seclusion: but this door ought always to be open to a true-hearted man with an errand like yours.

We are glad always to learn of your well-being—of your well-doing. We send you many kind thanks and wishes. And so: Forward, forward.

Yours very truly /

T. Carlyle