The Collected Letters, Volume 11


TC TO ARCHIBALD GLEN ; 7 June 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390607-TC-AG-01; CL 11: 122-123


Chelsea, 7th June, 1839

My dear Sir,

If I could throw any light on this question, which interests myself as well as you, I should have great pleasure in doing it. Mr Lamond1 has not called; I have not seen the Translations you speak of, nor the Letters of your Brother.2 Probably they would not give me much insight, different from what I already have one way or another. The last accounts I got when in Scotland were not favourable; I had thoughts of going up to Carstammon in person, but it threatened to be a pain from which no good could issue: those wild Peat Bogs themselves are hateful to me; I have no great wish ever to behold them again. Peter Austin thought “Mr Glen no better.” My Wife, who had seen our poor Patient the year before, expressed herself as almost hopeless. For myself I can only say and repeat, “while there is life there is hope.” I have never entirely despaired. Time has much in it for all living men; but it seems likely much Time, even in the best event, may in this case be needed. You must continue hoping. God in His mercy can one day verily awaken your dear Brother out of his sad darkness; and show him, to the melting of both your hearts, what a Brother he has had!

Occupation is of course the best of all known remedies; could it but be had. It seems to me very likely your Brother might actually be able to make good Translations: I think Translations from the Greek would have almost no chance to bring in money; but Translations from the French, or modern languages, are constantly wanted by Booksellers, and do, I believe, yield actual payment to the doer of them. The difficulty is, getting them to do. Your Brother, I can fancy, might be able to perform the work perfectly well; but he would of course need some supervisor, some middleman between him and the Bookseller and Public: could Mr Candlish3 or anybody known to you undertake this friendly part? I, unfortunately have nothing to do with the economics of Literature, and could not. Translation from the Greek, or from anything, independently of money, provided poor William took an interest in it, and liked to work at it, were undoubtedly a thing to be encouraged for his own sake, if for no other.

As to your removing him from Carstammon nearer to your own dwellingplace, that is a very natural desire on your part: nor do I see any difficulty in it, provided he too wishes it. If he did not wish it, I should think the step questionable; he would be fretted, disquieted, thrown out of his way; might not suit himself well to his new landlords. But otherwise, you can probably, by diligent inquiry, find such a place as Carstammon, a quiet place with thrifty reasonable methodic people in it, in Lanarkshire as well as Nithsdale; and, on the whole, if his own wish go with you, I see no great obstacle in the way. It will give me great satisfaction to learn that a comfortable arrangement has been made.4

Being so far out of the current of Scottish things here, I did not understand, till you now informed me, that your old copartnery was not yet going on as before. I rejoice very sincerely that such a sudden interruption did you no mischief, nay perhaps may be found to have done you benefit. A Partner so easily frightened into flight could not have been a very safe yokefellow. It was a great blessing to you that you had the faculty of helping yourself.5 A man with that gift is not to be cast down permanently at all. “Help thyself, Heaven will help thee,” say the French,6 and it is a true saying. I will fancy you going on decidedly well, and in a much safer position than the last was.

My wife has had much ill health since you saw us: she is much better now, indeed very tolerably well; has been improving pretty steadily for these two last years. We both salute you, and your household, and Life-companion, with our kind wishes. Your welfare will never be indifferent to us.

Believe me always / My Dear Sir /

very truly yours

T. Carlyle

In great haste, but unwilling to delay longer