January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO THOMAS STORY SPEDDING ; 15 September 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590915-TC-TSS-01; CL 35: 201-202


Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan N.B. 15 Septr, 1859

Dear Spedding,

I did at last lift anchor from Fife, a difficult operation for one so lazy and heavy laden; and have been here almost a week, on my way homewards,—constantly in view of Skiddaw1 and you, when rain-clouds and obstructions did not intervene. I am very anxious to come, and have another day or two with you in this world: the spirit indeed is willing, but alas, the flesh is weak!2 My Brother, one of the most learned men in that particular, has been studying for me in “Bradshaw”;3 but, alas, finds nothing comfortable: a degree of gig work, shifting, tumbling and bothering,—which the weak soul shudders at in its present mood! The truth is, I am considerably in disrepair of body at this time (untowardly chances, colds, &c, that befel me in Fife); and in mind almost still more, fractus bello, fractus annis [crushed by battle, crushed by years],—and with that hideous nightmare of a Prussian business pressing constantly on my poor imagination; a nightmare in fact likely to choke the life out of me, I often think! Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards;4 and seeks out troubles for himself if enough do not find him!—

On the whole my practical conclusion is, I ought to wait the fruit of the coming Campaign; and postpone my visit to Mirehouse (as I habitually do all visits and social enjoyments whatever) till my “nightmare” is hustled off forevermore, or at least till the internecine duel between me and it is completed,—whh indeed will mean the same thing or nearly so. That once done, how gladly will I come, and with what perfection of childlike loyalty rest myself once and again under your friendly shade!

Please let it be so; and do not bother yourself writing, &c., farther of the matter. Wish me well thro’ my George-and-Dragon duel (not without some quizzical pity), and then—!—

With kindest regards to the Lady, to the whilom Ld Chancellor (convicted of guilty practices),5 and to every one at Mirehouse,—Yours ever sincerely, T. Carlyle