July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO JAMES SPEDDING ; 24 September 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470924-TC-JS-01; CL 22: 90-91


Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan 24 Septr, 1847—

Dear Spedding,

Marshall told me at Leeds, some time ago, that you had been somewhat seriously unwell, but that now you had got quite round again. Fitzgerald, to whom I was communicating the latter part of the news, writes to me as if the recovery were by no means perfect, but only a “getting over the worst.” Pray send me a word straightway on that subject; on whatever other or others you like, but on that at any rate, and without delay.1

I wander daily in sight of your Mountains; have been here about a fortnight now, reposing from confused rambles over Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Few things could be pleasanter to me, nothing of the kind so pleasant, as to see your Brother2 and you, and speak a few words of friendly sense and sincerity again; but I fear I must admit to myself that it is not feasible for me under present conditions. I am utterly weary, unequal to any enterprise of Hill travelling,—I may say, any enterprise requiring Hope in moderate doses. I have tried you by all the combinations in the Carlisle railway table; but none of them will bring me from Ecclefechan even to Cockermouth: and for a whole day of coaching, among vulgar human bipeds, with the old shadows of the mountains, and shadows of the universe, falling on me, sad and earnest out of old years,—alas, as Homer sings, “he shudders at it in his soul,”3 horrible is the thought to him!4 I must sit here, and smoke tobacco, in an abstruse humour, for a week more, for uncertain days more; and then be shot home again to Chelsea, by express trains,—by gunpowder, and cannon of long range, if that were possible!5 Either at least, I do calculate, if added to the present arrangements, might be a real improvement to me.

Pray write, and soon. Old friends grow more precious to me as I myself grow old; indisposed to new alliances, not to say incapable of such.

Ireland, England, indeed the whole world, is growing more and more a bewildering horror to me: I believe, if I live long, I shall have to write another Book, and a more frightful one than any of the rest. I met Bright in the Manufacturing regions, and fell in with the outskirts of Bainesdom;6 not to speak of Milnes, on the other side, who was just going off to see Don Quixote's country, and the yellow Queens.7 Don't you think if a right blazing torch were thrown into it, the accursed choke-atmosphere would perhaps burn? To get rid of it, by fire or otherwise, is becoming pressingly needful!8 Adieu dear Spedding; write as I bid you. Yours ever

T. Carlyle