October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO LEIGH HUNT; 1 May 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330501-TC-JHLH-01; CL 6:374-375.


Edinburgh, 1st May, 1833—

My Dear Sir,

From amid what is well named the “agonies of Packing,” I write you a hasty line, for memento and farewell. It is not farewell either, for in fact we are coming seventy miles nearer you: but somehow at every change of abode one so feels it.

We leave Edinburgh on Tuesday morning,1 and in two days more shall be at Craigenputtoch, in the old Hermitage Establishment, as it was, and as we were. I carry down some Books with me; contradictions enough to meditate on, and make into coalitions; little else that is worth carrying. The winter has been sickly, dispiriting, stagnant; pleasant neither for the outward nor the inward man. Such a dreary morass of Dulness, Halfness, Unbelief; embarrassment, poverty spiritual and economical, it seems to me I never dwelt in: the truth is, Ruin, here as elsewhere is advancing with quite notable rapidity, and still darker days are in store for us. The overloaded Ass will lie down, and roll itself on its rider and squelch him; for any higher enterprise it has neither light nor heart: that is my prediction. I declare the aspect of the whole matter quite pains and saddens me; your whole mind is filled with pity, indignation, shame and sorrowful forebodings; and gladly escapes (if it can) into other contemplations.

So leaving things in general to fare as they may, let us have a word on things in particular. That “Thornton comes to Scotland” is a settled point with us; we wish now that you would, while time favours, get him what the sailors call “under way.” Our moors will have on their best cloak before May is done: there are long dawns and gloamings (dusks); and sunsets (perhaps sunrises) that he and I must look at from mountain-tops together. Tell him to set his Packages in order, and take the road; there are friends waiting him at the end of it. We promise to send him back a healthier and a wiser man.2 When I once know his time, I will write to himself a Note of directions; if he come by Edinburgh, we shall try to have some friend waiting for him here to do the honours: you yourself little as you may be aware of it, have kind even ardent friends in this cold city. Let us be warned therefore in due time; it will all be easily arranged.

The True Sun,3 which amuses us not a little, will not after Saturday night (your London Saturday) find us here; but be doubly welcome in the wilderness, “Craigenputtoch Dumfries.” The unfortunate Book-parcel will also certainly get thither one day or other: I used to buy single Tatlers4 in London; I shall find use enough for it among the moors, either in rainy days or dry, where all are alike lonely, unvisited of any excitement, except the beginning of work and the ending of it.

Jeffrey has not written to me for many months: indeed till two weeks ago I was in his debt in that point. Whatever you may have written to him, I do not think he will in the long run misunderstand it, still less take it ill. He affects indeed the philosophy of a man of the world, and has no settled creed of any higher sort: but there is a perpetual noble contradiction to it in that poetical heart of his. He loves all men, and especially loves the love of all men.

My good Dame sends her affectionate re[gards] to all of you; especially to Thornton that is “coming to Scotland.” Our ads then (after Saturday) is “Craigenputtoch Dumfries.” Write to us so[on] good news if the Fates will! I am ever, / My Dear Sir, / Yours most truly, /

T. Carlyle