January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO JOSEPH NEUBERG ; 21 July 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590721-TC-JN-01; CL 35: 154-155


Humbie Farm, Aberdour, Fife 21 july, 1859—

Dear Neuberg,

It is almost a month since we saw or heard of you; lazy and silent as I grow more and more, it is clearly proper, and has been for a while, that you shd have a word from me: I am not sure that you even know our address hitherto!—

We got up hither without accident, tho’ with plenty of bother, pre-arrangement and also post-do: but we have been doing rather well here, since these multifarious operations were well over. We have fine wholesome clean quarters,—very rustic, simple, but honest and in all essentials complete; with horse-keep, and human accommodation (of milk and meal, with shops, too, accessible) very much to my mind. The Dame rides on an Ass;—an importation, that, from native Dumfriesshire;—I bathe, walk, loiter in woods; ride, too, with my horse in a flourishing state, horse astonished beyond measure at the new phenomena of nature here, the sea waves, the precipitous stony paths, the cows almost most of all.— It is one of the finest scenes I ever saw in the world: woody airy Hills (mostly made of trap rock, & very well cultivated; ours a Farm House mounted on a knoll of its own, and looking free over the Forth and its Islands (Inch-Colm has a monastery on it)1 and its steamers and ships special and miscellaneous, with Edinr 10 miles off on the other side, and mountains and green pleasant countries lying more directly across (for illustrious Edinr is somewhat to leftward): “like a scene in a theatre,” varying in aspect from hour to hour; truly I question if the Bay of Naples itself is prettier on a fine day. The Forth in fact is a “Firth”; or Norway Fiord; only in a fruitfuller country, with gentleman's Parks in it and the like. I try to be perfectly solitary; and am so for most part, silence being much better than any speech there is chance of. But the ground itself is eloquent to me, with memories of 40 years back and more;2—I find old friendly faces still extant too, tho’ in small number.— I have been at Preuss, as you will see; poring and wriggling once again among these hideous Blockheadisms that have swallowed a Heroism nearly out of sight: what on Earth I am to make of it; or how, from such mountains of incoherent dust and ashes, any ingot (even of copper) is ever to be smelted? This question strikes into me, like a knife, the first thing, almost every morning. God help me with it! I was never as ill off in all my days with anything.— You at least will be free before long, I hope: what you can do—that is always a kind of hope to me in the matter.

Of the so-called French Emperor &c3 I have been taking the minimum of note. Among human mountebankeries of a sanguinary and atrocious nature I have seen none more disgusting,—none surer of a bad end, if I have any weather-wisdom! Yours ever T. Carlyle