The Collected Letters, Volume 11


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 20 June 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390620-TC-JAC-01; CL 11: 134-139


Chelsea, London, 20th June, 1839.

My dear Brother,— Since I wrote last, your Letter sent by some private conveyance has arrived, and was forthwith despatched to Annandale; and now, three days ago, the Florence despatch comes safe to hand, with the welcome intelligence that all is still right with you; that our rather confused correspondence both of Letters and Journals is all successful, and has handsomely winded itself up into some possibility of becoming regular now. Let us thank the Post-office with all its drawbacks: if you get that old Roman Letter (which otherwise is not of any moment) we shall have it to say that in these dozen years or so, while so much writing towards all quarters went on between us, not one Letter was ever lost. I am right glad to learn that you have got out of the hot South, with your young patients doing well; and are on your way towards the free German mountains where we hope they and all of you will do better and better. You spoke of “Poste Restante at Innsprück [sic],” if I had eight or nine days before the 24th to work on: I had only some seven days at the utmost, and durst not risk a Letter on that. I took an old Newspaper, and directed it very legibly thitherward; venturing two-pence upon it to give you a chance, tho' almost without hope. I aim at Salzburg today: perhaps this may find you in passing thro, at all events it will get to Ischl I hope without delay or risk.

The Annandale people and all you are interested in seem to continue well, tho' they have not written, since you last heard, anything beyond the address of a Newspaper, or some scratch of that kind. My Mother's hand is generally on the last Couriers; and there was an announcement from Alick three days ago, readable thus: “Have got a gig”! I wrote to my Mother yesterday enclosing your Florence Letter. Jenny still seems to be with them, Mother and she give tokens of having been at Dumfries &c. All in short is in the usual state there.— We are still in London, as you see, tho' the weather has now grown heartily hot in these last days. But it is clear and breezy withal, as beautiful hot weather as I ever saw; and now we do begin to make earnest preparations for departure. Indeed we should very probably have been off before now, had it not been for Elizabeth Fergus and—Count Pepoli! Elizabeth the oldest of the Ferguses, a most staid considerate elderly woman, came down into Devonshire with a weakly sister in March last, and back homewards some three weeks ago as far as Park-street here. At Park-street, however, she sent for Jane, indicated that Pepoli had asked her in marriage; with which offer she, as Jane had already guessed long ago, could by no means be disinclined to comply. What affected us more, Elizabeth volunteered farther to come and live with us two weeks, till the matter were decided; sending on her sister and maid by the Steamer; leaving her Brother's wrath and objection to ferment into some clear utterance or other in the distance. We heartily disliked having any even semblance of concern with such a business; but poor Elizabeth had no resource, she could not stay in lodgings a lone woman, and of her hospites [friends] here (some of whom “stay six months at a time in Kirkcaldy”) no one invited her. So here she is, and waits yet a day or two; one of the quietest of women; whom, in her autumn age, here so isolated, hopelessly hoping, I am truly concerned for. Her Brother would speak no refusal, whereupon the thing is actually to proceed, a married sister from Aberdeenshire comes hither one of these days, to take her into lodgings and wait till it be done. Pepoli has had a “cottage” in Brompton ever since March last, and has Bologna pictures now hung up in it for sale; is brightened up into gold ornaments, gay clothes, and looks very happy. We have seen little of him for a year past; he knowing very well that Jane saw into his game. I have sedulously abstained and do abstain from speaking at all of the matter. In spite of oneself one cannot look at Pepoli with admiration in this business, or indeed without pity, and a certain mixture of contempt perhaps not merited. He was reduced to utter distress I believe, and is a poor dangling man.1 Enough of him, and of this,—mentionable only as detaining us a few days longer here.— And now, dear Jack, before explaining to you whither we mean to go, let me specify how imprudent it was, if you wanted me at Ischl, to provide a horse and gig for me in Annandale! My good Brother—; but there is a word in one of my Mother's poor Letters in her rough tremulous hand, “Come while thy Mother is still there,” which sticks very close to me, which I even dare not disregard. So we are for Annandale; for Nithsdale rather, the whole of us, servant and all, and shall run between the two places as we see expedient. Observe however I do not even yet give up Ischl, or a meeting with you somewhere, were the fervour of the heats once over. Except seeing my Mother I really have at bottom little or no call to Dumfriesshire; and do not calculate with any certainty that we shall get permanently well on there; to get into fresh air, and finish my “article” comfortably, is as much as I bargain for. At bottom I must be far healthier than in these last two years, tho' my bodily annoyances are not at all lessened, for I feel anew a disposition not to sleep but move. In no year has it seemed so little incredible that I should actually stir myself and give you meeting. My program as before is, having done this article, either to fasten on some course of writing, or make for America and lecture. In the latter case, I shall certainly have a double call to run over and see you. Nay to have seen Germany itself even for weeks might be useful in the “new country.”2 My dear Jack, when I look at that £30,3 it makes me wae, wae and silent. But, by God's blessing it shall be all right too. Let us hold on steadily, ever trusting that our paths will converge and at least intersect before long; and not entirely divided even when so many miles are between us. I have little appetite for American lecturing, except as it might be useful to stir me up, to let my mind ripen several things,— and likewise to yield me a modicum of useful cash. As for Book-writing there is at this moment no very pressing call, I do think; my opinions be pretty well uttered now, to my infinite relief, and I gladly see them making their way with unexpected undeserved rapidity in my generation; there is nothing in me now burning to get itself uttered. Let us thank God (O yes, after all our wretchedness!) and wait not unquietly. O Me! the Moray-street dances overhead,4 and all the base misery known and unknown that one has had were probably the exact thing one needed to have. Courage, my boy!

As to my “Article” I must confess to having made hitherto very insignificant progress. I find myself totally in want of statistics in regard to it, and do not succeed easily in getting at them. I have jotted down very scatteredly some thoughts &c; I am communicating with Chadwick5 (hitherto without answer from him, he is in Lancashire) and with others; not hitherto to almost any purpose. However I shall and must get on. At bottom withal I find that it must not be statistics by any means, tho' I ought to know these too; but it must be utterance of principles, grounded on facts which all may see: an utterance of things difficult to utter articulately; yet many, indeed all reflective people, are longing to have them uttered. I mean to persist. Lockhart allows me perfect fair-play, the Quarterly so far as I can reasonably desire or expect is to be open to me: if my word prove entirely unsuitable, I am not to be bound to offer it there. Wish it well written: that is the difficulty.— But, on the whole, I shall do no good in the way of work till I get out of London. My time is cut in pieces, with visits, dinners and rubbish,—refused, most of them; some always unrefusable. I have written nothing, except some 8 or 9 pages for Fraser about the sinking of the Vengeur in Howe's victory of 1794: you remember it, the whole crew flying desperate, shrieking vive la République &c? I have had some considerable investigation about it, and find it at last utter falsehood, and publish accordingly with my name at it. You shall see the thing,—it is curious enough to read: I will get it sent along with the “Miscellanies.” The “Miscellanies” part first are now “in the River,” not yet got into Fraser's hands; I will take care to leave them at Montague House for you, where I mean to call and inquire this evening. Emerson sends me the account of the F. R.; some 60 or 70 dollars still owing to me, if they pay: “Miscellanies” nearly all sold now, yet with inferior immediate prospects of profit to me, owing to “bargain” &c, but tolerably sure to do in the end all that was expected. I have sent Emerson a perfect sheet of our new edition: the American profit out of that will not be worth much either, I think; but it will be something, the utmost possible,—perhaps £ 80 or £90. All which is well. Emerson is strong for my coming out, as is natural. He has sent a notable literary Miss Sedgwick hither, whom we have not seen yet. American Webster is here too; I breakfasted with him at Milnes's, with Hallam, Sir R. Inglis, Sir Stratford Canning &c: you remember his picture? A terrible beetle-browed, mastiff-mouthed, yellow-skinned, broad-bottomed, grim-taciturn individual; with a pair of dull-cruel looking black eyes, and as much Parliamentary intellect and silent-rage in him, I think, as I have ever seen in any man. Some fun too; and readiness to speak in drawling didactic handfast style about “our republican institutions.” I care little for him.— Anthony Sterling is here and Wife;6 well, and well-affected towards you, tho' disposed for badinage overmuch. John is at Clifton settled, where he wishes me much to go and see him; he would “ride with me” &c. What seems stranger, it really is not certain but I may go, leaving Jane here to her “week of packing.” For you must know, dear Jack, a certain Mr Marshall, a Yorkshire Millionaire and very good old man has in these days made me the offer of a very pretty black horse, nay the farther offer that one of his sons will keep it for me till I return hither,—really one of the handsomest offers ever made to me! I galloped yesterday all round the Dulwich region (unvisited since we visited it) on this brisk swift black along with another of the Marshall sons, a most bashful, but thinking honest-hearted man;7 and directly on finishing this sheet I am to go Marshalldom, and give final answer about that offer,—accepting it, I do calculate! I shall then have a horse (in some 2 hours) most likely; to gallop whither I will. The world has many kind people: such offers do one good in the right sense, or ought to do it. I can then gallop to Clifton, or anywhither! Anthony half talks of galloping with me; Mrs Strachey too writes in the most enthusiastic dialect: I do think it might do me good; but nothing is yet nearly fixed,—except that the black horse (mare it is) will most probably be in “Nodes' Stables Manor street”8 before ma[n]y hours here.— My dear Brother, why do I fill all your sheet with these things of my own almost exclusively? Because you are the kindest of brothers, and take interest in everything of mine— Our paper is done Write the moment you get this; to “Templand”: and consider that the summer is still partly before us. [invert now]9

My pen is none of the best; but I will try here a little.— I read with perfect understanding and sympathy what you say about Herzogthism [Dukedom] and your situation there.10 Money alone, or but little else than money! Yet on the whole when you have work, as you have, there partly is your place too. Ma[n]y thousands in this country would think you the luckiest of Doctors! And yet I know it is not so; one craves for sympathy, one cannot get it there. My dear Brother, you must hold on steadily as you are doing till some resolution ripen. It is a frightful thing settling in London; yet it is always here when you like. America doubtless is savage too. Have you no notion of marrying, and making a great adventure of practice and domesticity both at once! If you continue a bachelor, you will soon have money enough,—and need to study nothing, except how, by reading &c, you could expect to keep your own mind calm. God direct you, my dear Brother, to what is good. Count on me as your friend while either of us lives: that, I reckon, is something for us both.— But Rome will be lively with old friends in winter, the Clare's etc: your relation with the Duke too may certainly turn to permanent good, tho' you yet see it not. You will meditate, you will have resolved before the pinch of decision come. In the meantime, do not grübeln [brood]. Get books to read, get a horse to ride (attend to this, it is extremely useful for the mind too); go out into company with the old skies and hills, and be kindly related to them.— I will still hope that we may meet even this summer.— Jane comes to tell me that it has struck one, that I must off to Marshalldom; that nobody can read this Letter. Adieu, dear Jack; may God be with you! Your affecte

T. Carlyle

[JWC's postscript]

My dear John this is a very strong looking letter as I read it full of locomotive tendency— But don't make sure of him in Germany—nor yet of sending your sympathies by anticipation after him to America— My private idea is that when [he] has done Dshire11 he will have had enough of it and will take smoothly to some work and his black horse— Pray think about that marrying—you too would be much better settled—“clatching about the country” turns to small profit to any one— I wish I could give you both a little bit of my cat-constancy— Meanwhile God bless you— yours ever