July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO LORD ASHBURTON ; 26 July 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580726-TC-LOA-01; CL 34: 74-75


The Gill, Cummertrees, Annan N.B. 27 [26] july, 1858—

Dear Lord Ashburton,

I might have written to you sooner; but in truth, except a sign of life and remembrance, of whh you did not otherwise doubt, I have not had anything to say. It is now the fifth week that I have been here; in the profoundest solitude, and the most perfect idleness, possible for a British subject; nothing of articulate passing even in my mind; which does think in the speakable sense, since I am here; but swims vaguely in waste oceans of reverie, of reminiscence, mostly sombre enough, and sometimes of a very sad character, tho' I hope not unwholesome for the individual concerned. There is much unpleasant sediment to be collected always, if the troubled element is to clear itself at all.

Nobody is entitled to speak to me here, nor does; I hardly now know a human being in these regions, where once everybody was known. I read no Newspaper; am indifferent to Dizzy1 and Anti-Dizzy:—stalk about, on those narrow terms for the time being, in this Universe, whh is so big, so stern and great to me,—as if making mockery of all that can be said about it by a poor brief Son of Time!— I roam out on wide walks, morning and evening; I have an immense shambling horse, awkward, jolly, but considerably swift, for the middle parts of the day, and make long rough flights, thro' lanes, by sea sands, and solitary places (sometimes not a man in miles): I have done a few rather idle Books too,—an Arrian's Alexander the Great,2 a (Swedish) Lundblad's Charles Twelfth3 was worth reading:—this in summary is the History of my Life since I parted from you that evening in the Park.4

My Wife, I am grieved to say, is very weak. I have tried to persuade her hitherward; but she resists, indeed, I do fear, truly pleads she is not equal to such a distance by rail. Saturday next she goes to Alverstoke to Miss Baring, I am happy to know; and we hope this taste of country may help to strengthen her for a longer enterprise.— Ellice, I hear incidentally, is for a voyage to America;5 whh seems a greater undertaking than I anticipated of him. And you,—no doubt you mean for the Highlands6 again, and are gathering yourself for that scene of things.

I wonder if you know any yachting young gentn of my acquaintance, who is in want of a job for the season? I sometimes think, if such a one wd go to the Baltic with me, and set me down on the shore of Stralsund or Stettin,7 he mt be the means under Providence of setting me on visiting Friedrich's Battlefields (some 12 places, seen if able in 3 weeks); whh seems almost the one duty left for me to do in this interval, and whh I feel might be useful, tho' I much shudder at it! Pray think, and inquire, really, if you have a chance.— — Tomorrow I have a small point still to write about; but it is but disjointed from all other things. Yours sincerely— T. Carlyle