January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO [HENRY DRUMMOND] ; 20 January 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430120-TC-HD-01; CL 16: 24-25


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea / 20 jany, 1843—

Dear Sir,

Many thanks for your kind message to me.1 I had not seen the new Publication; as indeed I see almost no new Books except such as voluntarily come to me: but I find there already are in this several things which it might do me good to see. The Northampton slain at Stafford, for example;2 he and his seven Comptons,—one of whom, I have read somewhere, was so orthodox even in infancy that he would not suck on the Church fast-days!3 One is fond of long genealogies, as of long rivers and Rhine-streams, when they can be traced clearly, when they pass by many a noble Drachenfels,4—should they even end in Dutch quagmires, which are very melancholy to see!— My friend “Hubert” must be of the Northumbrian region, I suppose;5 Heaven knows what one's affinity to him is. My kindred, it would seem, is of the “Penersaughs arlyles” (as poor old Nicholas calls them): my great grandfather lies in the churchyard of that place;6 and beyond him there is no clear light at all. It struck me much, two years ago, standing amid the graves there, to find that beyond two hundred years or so there was no legible vestige extant of anything whatever. Two hundred years: and dust a thousand years old lay there;—and rocks perhaps a million years; and other invisible realities a whole Eternity of years old. We are of yesterday, and know nothing.———

Several months ago I had another favour from you; which I would not trouble you with writing about; but which I did not fail to appropriate and examine with due thankfulness. I find, what interests me not a little, that you and I, tho' starting as it were precisely from opposite poles arrive pretty nearly at the same centre; at this namely, That there must be an Aristocracy to govern, and even a Land Aristocracy,— tho' whether our present Land Aristocracy are adequate to do that, or only adequate to fail miserably of doing it, and have themselves and much else thrown into the ditch, we should probably dispute.7

A sight of Albury, according to your very kind invitation, could not fail to gratify, to interest me in more than one way. Why should I say that it is not possible yet some day? I heard of Albury long ago, from those that do not now speak to me any more!8— At present, however, I sit in ninefold imprisonment; struggling with infinite Stupidities (that is to say, writing a Book or volume), and in a state of nerves that renders the duty of staying at home entirely imperative on me. Were the Book done, were the Spring Days come, with their silver radiance, and prophecy of Hope, who knows? The country, then, any kind of country becomes like a sort of unattainable Eden to me; the sunbeams struggling thro' Town-smoke are like a rance-des-vaches [smell of cows], and sometimes make me desert straightway without counting of costs.

If you ever pass this way, it would give me pleasure to see you. My garret citadel is open at two o'clock and for a while after.

I remain always,

Dear Sir, / Yours with thanks /

T. Carlyle