January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO JOHN FORSTER ; 10 July 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590710-TC-JF-01; CL 35: 141-142


Humbie, Aberdour, Fife 10 july, 1859—

Dear Forster,

We are greatly shocked and surprised to hear of the bad turn of health you have had; and proportionally thankful to Heaven, and the other Helps,1 that it is over again! I had intended, every day, for about a week before leaving Town, to call at Montague Square,2—and there is a mad feeling in me (always till I reflect again) as if that omission had been the guilty cause of what followed! For the human conscience is sensitive, on some points, beyond what you perhaps suppose.

It seems to me, dear Forster, you ought to be out of London altogether, in this hot season, while the Country is in all its glory and the Town in all its noise and smoulder. Nay why not fling up your Office3 altogether, if it tie you in any measure in respect of what is so all-important as the concern of Health. To you no office is of the least practical moment; yields neither distinction, nor real profit of any kind,—nor does your pleasure lie, I think, in that direction, tho’ probably some vague notion of “duty” may, as habit no doubt does. I pray you reflect seriously on this! To me the Country with its mere silence, purity &c, is always about some 30 or 50 per cent on the right side of the balance as to health: I am seriously minded, if I ever live to get done with this undoable Book, to be actually off, and quit the horrors of Babel and its ugly Nebuchadnezzars4 for a place of God Almighty's making! Besides one might have two places, and alternate,—change sides, like a fish getting fried, for the remainder of one's time.

It is very clear to me if I had you here just now, to ride two hours aday with me among the silent Hills and Vallies, by the shore of the beautifullest Sea in the world;5 bathing daily, living on country messes from the neathanded Phyllis;6 and forgetting Bel & the Dragon,7 as if they were already in the Home full surely destined to them for all Eternity,—it seems to me you would feel yourself gathering strength again before a week were past. Tell Mrs Forster of all this; and that my Wife has got a Cuddy (anglice [in English] Donkey), and begins to be happy. And that there are still Lodgings here; entire “Houses to Let” (all but a corner into whh the shivering natives squat); and that there are other Cuddies,—and that there is such a view, by sea and land, as was never seen before!— — On the whole, practically, write a word to us, dear Forster, and say exactly how you are, to ears interested.

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle8