April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 18 June 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440618-TC-AC-01; CL 18: 75-76


Chelsea, 18 june, 1844—

My dear Brother,

I wrote to you only yesterday; and today, you may justly wonder what more I can have to say!— Last night there came a Note from Jack, and along with it your Second Letter, which quite alters the figure of your affairs for us; this fact too I thought it good to apprise you of, as a comfort to your mind till you hear of us again.

We are all very glad, my dear Brother, to learn that you have actually got a bit of Earth that you can call your own; and are now seated by a hearth which is yours,—were it under your vine and fig-tree, or even under the poorest thorn and bramble, this is an immense comfort to a man! So far as we can understand the affair, moreover, you seem to have decided with true wisdom. A small handy farm, near to a school, to a high road, to the only friends you yet have in Canada: all this is certainly infinitely preferable to some large tract of wild inarable land, destitute of these advantages. I for my share will take it as a good omen that you have made this choice. The only fault we all used to allege against you was, that you had a tendency towards the cheap and the large rather than towards the really good and small; I believe it is a real fault, and leads to very noxious results: but here you have entirely taken farewell of that,—and decided I do believe like a wise man, awake to the other side of the question! The poor Bairns too are got better, and ‘like to eat you out of house and hold’; long may it continue so. All goes better in this Letter than in the former one. Our Brother John ‘helping you to put in your barley’; you yourself ‘making three bed-steads’; it is all very cheerful to us, tho' full of toil and exertion. You contemplate a hard struggle for a while; but there are better omens now than there ever were. Not an honest stroke you put upon your Property there, but it will remain to you and yours. God's Earth is an honest taskmistress; and you have now her to appeal to mainly. She says, “Behave wisely, behave manfully, with patience, with industry, with real veracious endeavour; and I will reward thee!”

What do you call the place?1 Or has it yet got any name? You must try to give it a good one! And explain all to us, very minutely, so that on a Map we may be able to find it, and picture it out for ourselves. But, for all this there will be ample time by and by, and we shall see it gradually.— Your Letters have really good insight in them about Transatlantic affairs. I would recommend you not to spare writing down whatsoever thing you do see into there: such things deserve to stand on paper; the putting of them down may tend, more than you think, to good in all ways.

I sent on the Letter to Dumfries yesternight, with orders to forward instantly to Ecclefechan: Jack had already written to our Mother, imparting to her the outline of the better news. He was to get home by Carlisle, “next Wednesday” (precisely, tomorrow), Jamie to take him up at the “Galls Loaning.” He bids me say that he will very speedily write to you, but is in a bad post-country, and too full of general botheration, to do it at present.

I am not sure, on reflexion, if I have not aggravated to you my own impression of our dear old Mother's rather more than usually ailing situation this Season. I impute it very much to the noxious weather. Our Doctor will tell us better about it when there, we hope. Jane sends you her love. I my blessing to one and all of you once more. Adieu, dear Brother. Ever your affectionate, T. Carlyle