August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO JOHN JOHNSTONE ; 20 December 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18431220-TC-JJO-01; CL 17: 204-205


Chelsea, London, 20 decr, 1843

My dear Sir,

It is a pleasure to me to acknowledge in whatever way I can the friendliness of new friends to you in that new country far over the sea. My stock of autographs at present is rather low; a German friend1 got the better part of them bundled up last week;—and they suffer much here by the inroads of ‘young ladies from the country’; not to speak of domestic perlustrations, and the element of fire!

It is a great good fortune for me that your Letter,2 addressed in a foreign hand was not rejected at the door! In this tumultuous chaotic place, which will tear a man's time and existence to pieces, if he do not strenuously fence himself against it, one has to adopt very strong measures;—and one of mine, grounded on doleful experience, is this, that American Letters and Parcels, except from one or two known and much valued individuals in that country, are not to be paid for, but sent travelling on their way,—which alas is towards Chaos at any rate, in so many cases! Life is short and Art is long.3 But perhaps, after all, this is too savage a decision; surely, in the present case, but for a lucky accident, I should have been severly punished for it. On another occasion pray put your Initials on the back of the Letter.

We hear of you from time to time thro' Burnswark and David Hope.4 Labour is not sport anywhere; “Life is an earnest thing”5 in one country as in the other: but it gives us great satisfaction to understand that you enjoy health and heart, can labour with cheerful courage, and find that good endeavour gradually funded does yield a result at last. Good and best speed to you.

My Wife returns you many thanks and good wishes.

In great haste I prefer to answer this on the spur of the moment; I hope to find, thro' some Bookseller or otherwise, some conveyance that will not be too dilatory.

With ineffaceable remembrances, Always, my dear Sir

Most faithfully Yours

T. Carlyle

Revd John Johnstone
New York