1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO JOHN RUSKIN; 23 May 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550523-TC-JRU-01; CL 29: 317-318


Chelsea, 23 May, 1855—

Dear Ruskin,

There is clearly nothing to be made of that Grampus Wake:1 the leather jerkin of George Fox has buttoned him up from the sight of Sun and Moon.2 We (that is, you) fairly offered him human help, if he would have had it.

I am very sorry to hear of your coughing and continued sickliness. Be patient, quiet;—this is a monition to you to take more time! My impression generally has been that you go too fast; in many senses, this;—and that you will have to learn the other side of the business too,—what infinite profit there occasionally is in sitting absolutely down (were it even in a desperate mood, on hest of inexorable necessity), and doing nothing. This is very true; and I hope you will learn to believe it:—at all events, act upon it at present, on that; and be loyal to the idle Summer Air, till that have set you on your feet again.

Some afternoon, were you once home, you must come out hither, and take me to your place;3 I will wander about with you till night; and not fail to make my way back on my own resources. That, I suppose, might answer? To myself it would be a pleasant half-holiday; a pause in the sandy wilderness on reaching some convenient stopping-place. Keep it in your eye.

My Prussian affairs are as bad almost as Balaklava; and indeed resemble that notable Enterprise of the Turk War in several respects,—in this especially, that I had no business at all to concern myself in such an adventure, with such associates; and that a good result to it does not seem (for most part) so much as possible! “The longer you look at it,” as Sir John Burgoyne says, “the less you see your way thro' it.”4 Really my own experience ought to teach me pity and some touches of forgiveness towards the poor Noodles who are professing to lead armies out there, and publishing the shame of England, at home and abroad, in too sad a manner! They too are willing to die mutely in the mud, and so expiate their Noodlism in some small degree. A thing worth being laid to heart, by certain others of us!—

Don't quarrel with Tonbridge!5 I remember it6 as a place of airy expanses and respectable chalk-hills; where at least the winds blow free about one. Take thankfully what it offers; and let us see you home again, soon, and in roadworthy condition.

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle