August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 16 October 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18571016-TC-JAC-01; CL 33: 101-102


Chelsea, Friday (17?) [16] Octr, 1857

Dear Brother,

I am very glad to hear of your coming up hither again. It wd be a great pleasure to me, in my inwardly altogether lonesome existence, if you were comfortably settled in some way, within reach of me:—whh, alas, may probably never come about! Nay I myself always steadily think of getting quite away from these Babel localities, with their roaring tumults, whh is become meaningless and nothing better to me,—the instant I have done with this frightful job now on hand;—that so, in some rustic remote place, I might devote the remnant of my life to silence, rest, and reflexion upon what is past, and upon what lies ahead, coming nearer every day! But that too is, more likely than otherwise, only a vain project; solacement of the fancy, whh may never get itself realised in fact. “The heart is free; doch ist die Fuss gebunden [but the feet are shackled]1,—to a terrible extent, in this world!

Jane had another whiff of cold (as I myself had, to accompany her) since her return; but that is gone again, some weeks ago: and she is going about, considerably at discretion (for her); and indeed, I perceive, is much better than she was this time twelvemonth. We may hope to have a better winter, if we take care.

I am kept tied night and day to my unlovely occupation, and to maintaining the degree of health not incompatible with it. Riding has grown very irksome to me, in the dull weather, in the solitude, so chaotic a solitude withal: but I persist honestly; and find real benefit in it. There seems to me little doubt but I am in rather better health than when you saw me last, in spite of all this tribulation. For two days my Horse has been off work, and my lot has been walking, whh is a pleasant variety for the moment. Long ago the sage doctors here (especially my Stable-Keeper)2 demonstrated to me that I must shoe my horse “with leather on the forefeet,” to guard agt stones. I did so,—tho' it was abt twice the expense, and the feet did not feel improved by the measure, but the reverse. What cd an ignorant man say? Monday last, the poor Horse shed one of his fore-shoes in Hammersmith; I led him to a forge, shoe in hand,—a little wretch knocked it on again: “charge, 1/6, Sir,” only that! I paid, much marvelling in silence;—but I had seen the process of leather-shoeing; ladleful of pitch poured-in between the leather and the frog, &c &c:—in fact, I now perceived what had ailed my poor nag's feet all this while: and have peremptorily ordered all that rubbish to be peeled off him, & a common Christian shoe put! So that perhaps the “1/6, Sir” was cheap, after all.—

Ballantyne has started a weekly Newspaper here, “Statesman” the name of it,—I fear of not very life-like quality.3 If he send this No 2 I will send it you. Farie reappeared one day with a hired horse; rode along with me;—has now vanished to Brighton again. Poor Plattnr is out of his place at the Downshires';4 I think, by no fault of his. We are all extremely annoyed about India,—even Jane has taken into reading all she can find about it:—one of the saddest of all phenoma; terrible reward of obstinate unwisdom. Adieu, dear Brother: assure my good Jamie, and the rest, of my continued love.

Yours T. Carlyle