July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO CHARLES REDWOOD ; 24 September 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470924-TC-CR-01; CL 22: 86-87


Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan, N.B. 24 Septr, 1847—

Dear Redwood,

Alas, I could like well to get any such quiet and friendly place as Boverton, and your House; to stay there for weeks, or years,—or for life, as it seems to me! But I have been wandering almost ever since you saw me; have got now to my ultimate Non plus ultrà, am dormant namely in my good old Mother's House, for a few days, once more; and nothing more, in the travelling way, except one swift plunge, home to Chelsea again, must I think of for a long time to come!

My Wife went with me into Derbyshire, to the watering-places, to the spar-caves; still better, to the open wilds, and beautiful old sleepy villages: a Yorkshire Friend then brought us across the Hills, thro' the flames of Sheffield, to his home in Airedale; there we sat, three sunny weeks, looking from our Hilltop over other bright Hills, with their strange Mill-chimnies in the distance,—smoky outposts of the great smoke-reservoirs of Leeds and Bradford, which were also visible in the distance. We were very quiet there; and did well. At length the time came: my Wife, who can never yet be persuaded into Scotland since her irreparable losses there, turned southward and homeward, at Leeds; I hitherward, across the Manchester region. And here accordingly I am, for about a fortnight past; very sleepy, very silent; sunk, as is my wont here, in a whole sea of things for which there is no word convenient. Revisiting the ancient solitudes; looking close again into the primal Fountains of one's Life-stream which has now wandered far: this is not a scene to babble in, to be very joyful in! I keep people off from me; and lead a very lonely, somewhat abstruse and mournful, but not perhaps unprofitable existence here. My Mother grows yearly weaker: you know what a world of dark meditations lies for one in that inevitable irremediable fact! These many many years, indeed ever since intelligence began with me, the frightfullest thought has been that of losing my Mother: this too, I conjecture, is your own experience, and you know well what this means and will mean! We are to meet such things not with weakness; no, but with whatsoever strength we have. But to call Life “a joy,” Life having by law of fate such facts as these for its basis everywhere, seems but a feeble piece of logic. Life is not a joy; life is a deadly battle rather:1 let us try to fight it honestly, then.

Adieu, dear Redwood: I wish your friendly Boverton were but nearer me; I should often fly thither for a few still days. Good be with you there, whether I am there or not. Yours ever truly

T. Carlyle