July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 3 July 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470703-TC-AC-01; CL 22: 4-7


Chelsea, London, 3 july, 1847—

My dear Brother,—Your Letter came three days ago: after John too had read your news, it was instantly sent off to Scotsbrig, where our good Mother, who is come thither again from Dumfries, would also be gratified with hearing of your welfare.1 They have not written to us very copiously since our Mother left Dumfries: but two days ago, there was a short Note from Isabella, which reported generally that all was well. Our Mother was in her usual health and spirits, she informed us, doing very well at Scotsbrig: Jenny, one of whose bairns being unwell had detained her at Dumfries,2 was to come over now shortly, and rejoin our Mother; which would be suitable for both. Except this general intimation that all went in the common course, there was no news: considerable dearth still, but crops looking well, railway to be opened as far as Beattock3 “in August,” Jamie busy with sheep &c:—in fact, all going on as when you last heard; which negative news we are to take thankfully as good. Here too it is the same. Jack is now about getting some part of his Translation of Dante printed, which will take the thing off his hand, and be a real advantage on that side, tho' as he is to get no money for it, little other advantage is visible in the business. So soon as he gets his Printers4 fairly set to work, I suppose he will return to Scotsbrig, as cheaper quarters; which our good Mother too will like. As for Jane and me we have not determined on any outrake [excursion] for the autumn: but I suppose in general that a little glimpse of Scotsbrig may be my natural destination. I grow yearly a worse traveller; and if I have need of travelling at this time, I regard such need as a real misfortune. I have taken to no outward work yet; and do not see any very near me yet, tho' my mind is getting heavier with the feeling of endless work to be done,—to be struggled at, so long as I live.— By the bye, I had a letter from Mr Greig, informing me that he had duly sent off by a private gentn (whom he named) your copy of Cromwell;5 very sorry that it had never come, he would take strict order &c: by and by, I should think, you were sure of the Book. If it do not come shortly, you had better write to Mr Greig, and appoint some shop or public place in Brantford (the Post-Office, for instance?) where the Parcel could be certainly left for you.

We were delighted, dear Brother, to hear of your wholesome industries; of your planting Appletrees, and other solid labours. By all means, complete your orchard; it is a beautiful duty that of planting fruit-trees; and a blessed one, especially when you can hope your children will pluck the fruit! And get the best trees you can; that will prove to be the real thrift at last. And train the children, each in its own little garden, to respect fruit-trees, honourable profit, industry, beauty and good order: it is the summary of all Gospels to man! I have bought 3 fruit-trees and put them in this poor sooty patch of garden; the old ones, the work of some good man 150 years ago, having died or needed to be torn out: one pear and one cherry, for this year, seem to be all our promise of fruit-harvest; but some poor hungry Cockney in another generation may do better.— Jane and I, for our share, were hugely amused at your application of gunpowder to the old immovable oak logs! An excellent invention indeed. With a wimble you can sink the physic into the very heart of them; and the most gnarled monster of a block will, with one roar, obey you, and go its ways, when the match-paper acts! I think they ought to make it general, that plan, in the Canada woods. Only take care to be well out of the range, when your shot goes off! This really is to be attended to; and I should be most afraid of you in that respect.

Your Purchase of the 40 acres was partly expected by us here. We cannot judge of the wisdom of it: but as you did it with all your sagacity summoned to the inquiry, we cannot but hope it will do well. Nothing in the world seems more certain than that all Canada, and that Bield in particular, will and must increase yearly in value: whoever can stick to his place there, like a patient, valiant man, he infallibly will find his place fruitful for him. May Bield, and this new Purchase, be blessed to our Brother and our Brother's heirs!— The instant your Letter came, Jack and I despatched the due order for 800 dollars to Adamson at Dumfries;6 with injunction to be swift, that he might save the Post-Steamer (of Today). Adamson, as you will see by this Note received from him yesterday, has done the business; tho' it was not, at first very clear to us how: but we now perceive, you are to receive from Adamson by this same Post, a Letter of Credit on the Bankers Smith, Payne & [Co of] London:7 this Letter of Credit you take to any respectable Bank in Canada (or perhaps it mentions some special Bank?); and they will give you 800 dollars for it. I hope and believe it is all right. But if you do not get the Letter of Credit, or if anything else in it be wrong, you must write immediately to “R. Adamson Esqr Dumfries,” and demand remedy: one thing is very certain, he has already got the money into his hands here, and is bound to put it safe into yours.— For the rest, it were surely wise to look strictly after these “rights and titles” before you part with your cash. To consult some good Lawyer, or otherwise known and responsible man, if you have any doubt about it? Of course doubts can be removed, by asking in the right quarter. And so enough of that affair; which, we hope, you will tell us by return of the Steamer, is all settled and off your hands,—and the acres safe into your hands.

Dear Brother, I am at the end of my time today; and must not write any more. You have got, I believe, what is essential; and my hurry at present is very great.— They are printing my F. Revolution the third time,8 which brings me a little money. Of late years I get regularly a kind of rent from these poor Books of mine; some 2 or 300 a-year of late; which is almost affecting to me, for the “estate” lay long quite barren, and would pay nothing, not so much as a bit of Canada Forest. Courage always!

There are great fears entertained about the Potatoes this year again; which I hope will be realized!9 Fever rages in Ireland, now that famine has somewhat ceased: it is better to go thro' the horrible quagmire than to turn back in it.— Adieu, dear Alick: we send you our best blessings, one and all of us, to you and yours. Your affectionate Brother

T. Carlyle