August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO LORD ASHBURTON ; 18 August 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570818-TC-LOA-01; CL 33: 34-36


Chelsea, 18 Augt, 1857–

Dear Lord Ashburton,

Your Letter came to me yesterday morning; and glad I was to get authentic notice of your whereabout again; for nothing definite could be picked up on that head,—except that somebody had got a glimpse of you once in Manchester,1—since the night I last saw you in Bath House.

You have found Loch Luichart again; but alas it is not the Loch Luichart of last year, nor ever will be again. I remember every bit of it, as if it were shown me in a mirror, from those sad hints you give: and to me also it is a place sternly tho' beautifully tragic henceforth, beyond all other places. What you say of Sambo2 is sadder than tears. Poor dumb creature! I too have been learning more and more almost every day since that 4th of May3 what the immense amount of the then event was to me,—even to me; how much more to those that were nearer! In the very Proofsheets whh the Printer sends me I find every here and there something that was written for one that will now never read it: “Work delayed,” as old Samuel said, “till most of those whom I wished to please are sunk into the grave; and success and failure are empty sounds.”4—But we must not dwell on these things. Nor do you, I am well aware, beyond what you cannot help.

I have been here constant to my sad function, ever since you went; mostly writing (as just now) in the open air, under an Awning in the little Garden; whh I find a much wholesomer method, tho' not otherwise recommendable,—much time wasted, lugging Books about, &c. My task continues laborious, disgusting, miserable beyond what I ever had to do before: there is as it were one interest left for me in the world: to get it done; and then retire into some still corner, the less noise the better, till all be done.— Whether the Book will ever be of the least worth I cannot affirm; but to do the like of it there is not gold enough in California to hire me; and the getting honestly rid of it will be a joy indeed!—

Lady Sandwich was mostly hindered of her Addiscombe by the so-called Emperor's visit to Osborne;5 who accordingly cut me out too, so that I only rode thither one sunday, and returned next morning. The place was beautiful as the Elysian Fields, and had a grand sadness in it to me as of Eternity: I shall never forget the look of skies there that night.

My Wife is come now to Edinburgh again, slowly on her way southward; I expect her home about the end of this month: it is La Trappe6 solitude or more till then. I fear she has not gained very much in health; but yet I think, a little. On these terms we must try the winter again.

This morning a Pamphlet on Indian matters arrived; done by Brigadr Mackenzie,—too much in the Newspaper way.7 If I find it good for anything at all, I will send it on: you can make wadding of it after reading it. The affairs of this Empire, India one of them, do not look comfortable to me “at all, at all!” We are learning what it is to be governed by a “Talking-Apparatus”: God grant we may learn it, and not mislearn, whh I some some times8 doubt!— — Riding grows very disagreeable and monotonous; I often wish you were of the party: but you are better employed. Come out of that wild country, so soon as the weather begins to break. Yours ever truly, T. Carlyle