January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 31 August 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450831-TC-AC-01; CL 19: 182-184


Chelsea, 31 August, 1845—

My dear Brother,

Your Letter arrived here two days ago, and was straightway despatched, after due perusal here, to our Mother and the Friends in the North; all of whom, like us, will be right glad to see it. I happen to be nearly alone here at present; Jane is away in Lancashire for the last month;—only Jack, who has been roving about the Country thro' the summer, is with me for the last ten days.

You have been working terribly again; too hard, I fear! That was a fault of yours from of old: I also have often cause to remember our Father in that respect, how much wiser he was than I in laying out of strength.— I find you still very melancholy, my dear Brother,—sad and solitary in your new Country: but on the whole I surely think it is a wholesome way you are in; better and better will come of it as you persevere. Whatsoever a man plants in this God's-world, it does sooner or later grow for him. That is true in regard to all spiritual things too; really as true as in regard to trees and grains. Whatsoever manfulness we shew in any matter, whatsoever virtue or worth we do veritably put forth, does turn to good for us in all ways by and by. Men do not reward us for it; but the Author of Men very infallibly does.— One finds all places sad, solitary; earnest labour is one's lot here below. Let us never mind what the people are; let us elbow our own way thro' them as faithfully as lies in us: their unsound ways of procedure are a misery to themselves; a thing worthy of pity from us, if of any feeling.

You are fairly getting nestled into that new seat, we find. I wish you would give it a name! Have you never thought of any name? You must also in the winter time give us a much fuller description of the whole figure and conditions of it: there was one Letter last year full of description of your neighbours and neighbourhood, which we all found very interesting. And think of a name! Something emblematic; descriptive of the locality, or of your own humour towards it. Pilgrimston, Alexton (that is the indisputablest name of all!), Hopeston, Bield, Screen, Bush &c &c.1 I shall like to hear of your gradually taking some affection to the place; which, as you see the fruits of your toil spring up there, will not fail in time. You, it is true, as I here, and as all of us or most of us in this world, will never get entirely to feel it as a home: but Tom and little Jane and the rest of them will; and may have great reason to bless the hour when you brought them out there. Bad people in one's neighbourhood is a very sad element: but if there be no good society, you must train the children all the more strictly to stand on their own feet, and front a life of solitude among their fellow creatures; which is often the lot of those that would be honest here.

Your Canada Harvest seems none of the best; and we here have also great doubts about ours. The Summer has been dim, damp and cold: all things are four weeks later than they ought to be; which is itself a bad sign. Immense railwaying, and other “Speculation,” carried to a most wild pitch, is going on; I myself should not wonder if it all broke down on the sudden, and adding itself to a bad harvest, brought great woe upon the working people again. Prosperous or unprosperous it is a very ugly sight to me, such fierce hunting after money. The Carlisle-and-Glasgow railway does now go on; comes across by Cleughbrae,2 I think they say: the poor people will get employed for a while digging at it; but I have small hope of any permanent improvement to them by means of it.

Our news out of Annandale are still good: our brave old Mother stands out wonderfully; she has been once or twice a little unwell, but on the whole never really ill,—rallies into new strength in a day or two again. She is now at the Gill, for a little sea-bathing. Jack was there for two or three weeks in the early part of Summer: he brings a good report in general of them. Mary indeed still continues to suffer; and poor Isabella is perfectly feckless, confined to bed I believe. But Jamie struggles away; his farm is now going to be a few pounds easier for him every year. Jean at Dumfries has got a new Daughter;3 I had a short Letter from her lately; my correspondence there and indeed in all quarters whatsoever has been much curtailed for a while past. I have written as it were no Letters, none at all that I could escape writing.

Now however I am to have a little more leisure. Last week I actually got done with that Book on Cromwell! It is all gone to the Printers now, indeed all printed but a few sheets; I shall not have much more trouble with it. They are not to publish it till October: I hoped to have got you a Copy, and indeed a whole Box of little things for a Gift this Autumn: but, alas, the work grew greatly on me; and in place of ending in May or June, I am ending now.— I am in great bustle at present; getting everything sorted for an instant run Northward. I am to meet Jane in Liverpool; then she returns, and I go on across to Annandale. I have much need of a little country quiet, but shall not get much. I am this day sending off my horse to winter-quarters. It has grown a capital horse, and I have ridden much on it; but nothing can or could keep me well. I am to have the beast maintained for £6 in some supportable kind of way till March next; then I will try it again perhaps.—— Jack, as I said, is with me; reading the Sheets of this new Book at present. He does not seem to have any plan for himself; and one of the worst features is, he is wonderfully content with that form of affairs. In fact he is thoroughly idle; and is conscious rather of being busy. I am often sorry for him poor fellow. I think he will perhaps stay here a while, and then go into Annandale when I have left it.— Dear Brother, I have a bad headache, even if my paper were not done. I will write, with more minute news, when I have seen Annandale myself.— Mr Greig has been here and in Scotland; he returns by the Steamer that will carry this Letter. I gave him a Copy of Past and Present for you,—a new edition they4 have just published here;—he undertakes to have it sent to you by some conveyance. Farewell then dear Brother. Be diligent, valiant and patient.

Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle