April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO JOHN STERLING ; 27 August 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440827-TC-JOST-01; CL 18: 192-193


Chelsea, 27 Augt, 1844—

My Friend,— Today another little Note from you makes the hearts start within us.1 On Sunday morning gone a fortnight there came another;2 which will dwell in my memory, I think, while I have any memory left. Ever since, it mingles with every thought, or is itself my thought; neither do I wish to exclude it, if I could. To me there is a tone in it as of Sphere-music, of the Eternal Melodies which we know well to be sacred;—sadder than tears, and yet withal more beautiful than any joy. My Friend, my brave Sterling! A right valiant man; very beautiful, very dear to me; whose like I shall not see again in this world!—

We are journeying towards the Grand Silence; what lies beyond it earthly man has never known, nor will know: but all brave men have known that it was Godlike, that it was right GOOD,—that the name of it was GOD. Wir heissen euch hoffen [We bid you hope]. What is right and best for us will full surely be. Tho' He slay me yet will I trust in Him. “ETERNO AMORE [Everlasting Love]”; that is the ultimate significance of this wild clashing whirlwind which is named Life, where the Sons of Adam flicker painfully for an hour.

My Wife is all in tears: no tear of mine, dear Sterling, shall, if I can help it, deface a scene so sacred. The memory of the Brother that is gone, like a brave one, shall be divine to us; and, if it please the Supreme Wisdom, we shall—O my friend, my friend!

In some moods it strikes me, with a reproachful emphasis, that there would be a kind of satisfaction for me could I see you with these eyes yet again. But you are in great suffering; perhaps I should be but a disturbance? There is a natural longing that way; but perhaps it is a false pusillanimous one: I have, at bottom, no speech for you which could be so eloquent as my silence is. And yet I could be silent there too; silent and quiet. I shall let Anthony decide it between us, to whom I write today.3

Adieu, my brave and dear one.

Yours evermore /

T. Carlyle