January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 29 May 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430529-TC-JAC-01; CL 16: 185-188


Chelsea, Monday, 29 May, 1843

Dear Brother,

Your Letter from Dumfries,1 as you will have inferred, came safe to hand; but there has no second arrived hitherto, so that I am partly in the dark as to your address in these hours. I write to Dumfries as the likeliest.

On Saturday, hard upon five o'clock, in a very hasty, half-wet and wearied, muddy condition, I wrote, on the Counter of a Stationer in Pimlico,2 a word of announcement to you that the Cigar-box (the smaller, a very light one) and the Canadian Book3 were under way: I had just been depositing them with the Strand Booksellers,4 and then attending a Yearly Meeting of the London Library,5 and doing manifold etceteras; the Packet, I suppose, will be in Edinburgh, at least in Leith Roads, tonight; and as “speed” also was written on it, probably it may arrive at James Aitken's by Coach on Wednesday. The Book is of no moment to me, if you can turn it to any account whatever.

What you say of Alick is naturally very interesting to me. On the whole, it may be admitted that, if he is resolved to go to Canada, he is wise in his circumstances to get thro' it at once, and not to spend another season in reconnoitring: it will all be a confusion, when once practically begun, after never so much reconnoitring. I have good hopes of Alick yet; and am heartily sad of heart about him,—if sadness availed anything. It is the best chance I see anywhere open for him, this of Canada; a new free field, where many of his talents will come into wholesome play, and a fresh purpose and hope will arise in him again, after so long and sad an abeyance. You speak of £300 to lie ready for him when he reaches the new Country:6 is that enough, the fittest sum one could afford him? Whatever sum you find, on investigation, to be best, I will cheerfully go halves with you in it. On Friday or Saturday I wrote to Alick himself to that effect. I shall be anxious now to learn what he is doing since Wednesday last, and how the matter shapes itself for him and those interested. Does he mean to bend towards Brantford and our Brother John? Or will he not go by Canandaigua, and Clow and Greig?7 I had an American Mr Colman,8 an agricultural missionary of some distinction, sent hither to me by Greig on Saturday night last: I could write to Greig freely if Alick liked it. Canandaigua, they all say, is a beautiful place; but I think there is said to be some aguish ground about it: this is one of the prime things to be avoided at all rates.— My poor Mother, she will need all your support at present; for her imagination too will greatly aggravate the matter: it is now no such business going to America; America is in very fact nearer to us at present than London was fifty years ago. O be kind to our good old Mother,—and say all that is kind to her good ever-loving heart: no Mother has deserved better of children than she of us. Are you sure this driving up and down, in such weather (if your weather be like ours) is not too much for her?9— I reconcile myself to her arrangement about Scotsbrig for another year. She might have a Cottage made out of that old wrecked House, if she liked to live at Ecclefechan. It could all be made neat and trim; built fronting into the garden; divided from the others by a wall. If Jenny were with her, she might do very well. I do not think Jenny will ever get more good of Hanning;—but she too must be convinced of that by better evidence first.10 I long to hear from you what turn all things take in poor Annandale, with the good souls that are still there for us.

That blue Letter came from Varnhagen last week: there are others besides, but they are not worth stuffing in. Today there has one come from Cavaignac, one from Thomas Spedding, which latter I may send to you, when once I am sure of your address. Hat WENIG zu bedeuten [It matters little].

On Wednesday night I did go to Bunsen's: he stood at the stair's head, red as the Northwest Moon, an assiduous hospitable man; his soiree was laid out according to the first-rate style of Art, his rooms luminous as the summer sun, and “all the world and his wife”11 parading gallantly there. There were whole regiments of quality ladies young and old, they came floating and flocking on towards the music room, literally whole shoals of peeresses in esse or posse [actually or potentially]; a tremendous Turk also was there, in full costume; and in short everybody,—from Henry Chorley up to the Duchess of Sutherland! It was at last a perfect squeeze; and the music (Mendelsohn's Antigone),12 which seemed very beautiful, could no more be heard than if you had sung it in the inside of a carding-mill. I saw a good many people whom it was pleasant to salute and speak a little with; and towards midnight, at the very crown of the game, I hustled on my Tweed, and walked home, smoking a cheeroot under the peaceable stars. I mean to call for Mrs Bunsen in due course. No Rask has yet arrived: and now Brandis13 undertakes to write “to Koopenhagen” for a Danish one. Brandis has only been once here for the last fortnight, owing to influenza: he is decidedly fabulous; a pleasant enough, but rather indifferently conditioned man.— Our Library Meeting, in the close foul air, was a real oppression to me; I left it half done.

Jean got two Newspapers from me, which contained insignificant reviews of Past and Present. If you are at Dumfries, remember me affectionately to them all;—and ask for the No of their new House.14 I would have written to my Mother; but fancying you always beside her, this seems hers as well as yours. It was right good, that kindness to Mary!15— My love to one and all

Your affectionate /

T. Carlyle