July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO JOSEPH NEUBERG ; 5 September 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550905-TC-JN-01; CL 30: 55-57


Addiscombe Farm, Croydon / 5 Septr, 1855—

Dear Neuberg,

I ought to tell you what has become of your faithful steed and me. I rode about in the environs of London twice or thrice with the nimble little animal, greatly to my pleasure and advantage, for a day or two; then, on Thursday last, things being all brought to bear, I trotted out hither in the breezy twilight (Mrs C. coming by rail); and have been here ever since, in the most complete retirement, generally in a state of solitude to which only La Trappe,1 if even that, could offer any parallel. For my wife, having initiated the ménage here, went away again; only returns once in the few days to keep the commissariat department straight, and prefers for her own behoof the resources of Chelsea: so that I have free scope for silence, as ever man had; and literally converse with nobody except the little Horse, and my own thoughts if I have any, and my own sensations which I am sure to have. The lanes and old country roads, old as Hengst2 many of them, are very pretty, the Heaths still green as an emerald; a county of corn and grass and wood,—Croydon was once a place for Charcoal, the “Colliers of Croydon” a phrase in old Books, and venerable stumps of oaks are still frequent, and in general there is still a profusion of wood. Being quite new to country and to riding, I enjoy the phenomena not a little; and will continue my riding for a while longer if I do not hear the Horse is wanted. Poor little quadruped, he carries me beautifully (the Farmer very good to him here in return); he trots along when the ways are sandy; walks or paces when the small pebbles abound, and joyfully canters when we get upon the sward of Heaths with the wind in our faces. An excellent sagacious useful little creature;—willing to contribute all he can (even as his Owner is) to getting forward with that dreadful enterprise of Frederick the Great; if by any means, taking it in front or in flank or in rear, we could contrive to do some good upon it! I keep the thing in abeyance altogether just now; which may be considered a taking it in flank or in rear,—if not an abandoning of it altogether; which I am still sometimes tempted to resolve upon. In all my days I have been in no such sordid whirlpool of dancing sand, where I had no business to be: on the whole there is but one question, How to get out again?

All my leisure time, when not walking or riding, is taken up with Voltaire, of whose works there is an excellt edition here; far the best I have ever seen (Renouard's, in above 60 volumes, Paris 1819,3 posterior to Beuchot's,4 and possessing a most copious Index): I have read mostly in Voltaire both here and in Suffolk, since you saw me last: pleasant, most clear, ingenious and by no means unveracious reading: a man and a world of men which excite to endless reflexions, mostly of a rather sad nature, “Ach mein lieber Sulzer, Er Kennt nicht diese verdammte Race!5— — I have not set any time for returning to Chelsea; but am always to be heard of there, my Dame being stationary there. Will this cold weather drive you home? There has been local wind these 4 or 5 days, and tumbling continents of cloud; but as yet no rain. My Brother was to be in Hamburg as on Tuesday morning; after a little while to Magdeburg and Cöthen.— The Paper, you see, is come. Yours ever truly T. Carlyle