The Collected Letters, Volume 11


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 15 August 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390815-TC-JAC-01; CL 11: 165-168


Scotsbrig, 15th August, 1839—

My dear Brother,

You are at this moment, as I now guess, not a little disappointed as the Postman passes you without a Letter from me. You will get a Letter tomorrow morning, and that also will disappoint you. It would have been all right had you either written last time in a more unmistakeable manner, or not written at all. However, I think I do decipher you now, and the business will still be found in train far better than you once hoped. For after getting home last night, and putting dry clothes on me, and reading and again reading your brief Note in Fraser's frank, whh I had at last got quietly under my eye, it became more and more clear to me that you had all along calculated on staying in London till you heard from me, be that when it might: this seemed decidedly the likelihood, and now I could figure your vexation on receiving by Friday's post only the shell of a letter from me, the important kernel being still, by my bewilderment and over-caution, retained hard and fast here! I therefore got one of Jamie's men to saddle, and forthwith, by the same post, transmitted the Letter of Credit (£1220”14”10, I think) to Wm Hamilton,1 with request to impart it to you instantly; a thing which I am this day still better satisfied at having done. I calculated that either Hamilton would send to you, or more probably that you would run directly over to Hamilton; and so in either case your vexation vanish with an “all's well that ends well.” So be it.

The worst is that you cannot now come by tomorrow's steamer, which indeed you could hardly have done even without this last Thornhill nodus [difficulty], tho' perhaps you would have attempted it. You will now have to aim either for “Monday 19 Augt 4 p. m.” by Sewell, or “Wednesday 21 Augt 8 a. m[.]” by Hudson;2 either ship is good enough. I rather conjecture you will make for the former; leaving London on Sunday (or even Sunday night—no, that is too insomnial, avoid that!)—getting some 20 hours rest in Liverpool (it is enough there), then home to breakfast with us on Tuesday? If it is so, and the Cash affair too is right, and all is right, then send me a Newspaper with one distinct stroke on it, and I will be in waiting for you at Annan-foot on Tuesday morning. I compute that you will get this note into your hands on Saturday some time, for I have requested Fraser to send it straight: if however it be past 7¾ o'clock at Charing Cross, and no more mails open for six and thirty hours, then do not mind, we shall not indeed get your sign at Ecclefn on Monday morning; but do you carry it on in your pocket to Liverpool, put it into the office there, and we shall still get it some time of the day on Monday, time enough, for I will have Alick on the watch for it. Is this clear? If you have time to write, it will of course be better. If you aim for Wednesday, a letter will be expected. I think they will get into Annan that same night: the Gig will be ready. But I vote for Monday, and hope it will be so; the rather as our own time here is drawing to a close, and the sooner you come we shall the better get our discussions completed. I am not nearly sated of the country yet, indeed I should wish to live in the country the year round; but Jane is completely uncomfortable at Templand, cannot long be put up here; so I find we must quickly address ourselves to getting these Cumberland visits transacted,3 and have her conveyed back to Chelsea again. I, however, will not probably set off finally at that time; but return out of Cumberland for a ten days? She wants to be at home a while before me to rectify the house. Perhaps I can include you in my future movements? We shall see that.— Jane and her Mother were to go off to Ayr this morning,4 to continue there one week; then hitherward: she will be expecting to be brought down not many days after you arrive; I had an invitation for you too to Templand; you can see about that. My writing has gone all to smearing;5 I shall do no good till I get to my own desk at Chelsea: I do mean to write that thing, if faculty be left me.

We were all well pleased that you had not made a new alliance with Claredom; well pleased we should all be if you had to go no more to Italy at all. But your plans must shape themselves according to necessity; a man must go where he finds there is work for him. I dare say you are full of uncertainties at present, of complicated possibilities and impossibilities. If there was anything that you yourself decidedly wished, you could then bend all sail towards that, one's chief happiness any where lies in a determinate endeavour such as that. You must have patience, candour of self-judgement; you must learn, if you have not yet learned it, to “rest in a place” till you get some judgement formed. After all, your own wishes are now your chief indication; you have an income, on which in your single simple state you can live independently of all. Yet of course I would not recommend that. One has other faculties that call for work beside the digestive faculty! In short, dear Brother, you must be your own doctor in this case; you must by patience and effort dive down into what is the real centre of all these confused-looking whirlpools that whirl (not without their law) on the surface of one's conduct; you must ascertain the centre, and fix your determination there. God give you clearness to know, courage to do, and no worse success than you have hitherto had! If your lot brought you near me, it would of course be a blessing to me, to us both I dare say, for tho' we chaffer and argue a good deal,— a good deal too much, yet surely there is good brotherly agreement between us. A Brother is a great possession in this world; one of the greatest. Yet it would be unwise to make great sacrifices of essentials for the advantage of being close together. Ah me, I am no man whom it is desirable to be too close to! An unhappy mortal, at least with nerves that preappoint me to continual pain,—to loneliness, let me have what crowds of society I like; to work, as the one sole use of living. But we will speculate no longer; above all we will not complain. Are not the good Heavens good to us? We have a prospect of meeting on Tuesday morning.

Jamie is gone down to Annan Market today. There is a speculation incidentally of Austin getting a Farm; the place Ben Rae had, in Cummertrees.6 Stewart of Gillenbie will have the letting of it.7 I wish they could succeed, poor creatures; they are well-doing industrious persons, and have a fight for it there where they are. Jamie was to see Ben Nelson; Ben was to see Stewart for me already about a projected selling of Craigenputtock [sic] (this is a secret): at night there will be report of progress.——— I have a dirty headache, what I call the “New-potatoe headache”: I dined yesterday at Alick's, and eat of those “tubers,” sweet but sorrowful. All are well here; our Mother stirring about, very probably making a cock into broth; Isabella considerably improved, and still improving. I write in the room that was your bedroom, which is furnished a little now, and quite comfortable with my thick clothing. We have rain still, a second day; but perhaps it will dry.— Shall I expect you on Tuesday then?

Ever your affectionate Brother

T. Carlyle