April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 6 April 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490406-TC-AC-01; CL 24: 15-17


Chelsea, 6 April, 1849—

My dear Brother,

This is your American post-day; so I will write you a few words, tho' I am in too great a haste for writing to the purpose, being just upon a small journey into the Country, and my time very limited. Your Letter came to me about three weeks ago; and gave us all, as you may suppose, real satisfaction. We were delighted with the account of your new purchase;1 and took it as a symptom that you were spreading your roots in that new country, and seeing in it some of the comforts of a home after all your sore battlings. A “home,” alas, in the old boyish sense of the word we shall, none of us, ever find more in this world: poor old Mainhill, Ecclefechan and Annandale2 are to me, when I do see them again, like a land of ghosts, so inexpressibly sad that I rather avoid than seek the sight of them; and feel that “one's father's house in young days” is the only “home” a human creature can look for under this sun! But what then? We are not to spend our time in grieving; we are to shake weak sorrows and regrets away from us, and do man-fully some good work for ourselves and others while time continues for us here. I rejoice much in the prospect for you of a grave earnest course of industry in your new field of labour; and can anticipate for you such serious profitable satisfactions, with your children growing up round you, and the fruits of your labour prospering in your hand, as are fit for a good man in this world. O my dear Brother, how thankful should we be that this, in any form, is granted us! Our young days are now far behind us; but the memory of them is sweet and sacred: we will struggle on, courageously yet to the end; and know well that no good thing we can do will be lost to us or to any that relate themselves to us.— The Dr,3 I suppose, did not fail to tell you how contented we were with this new purchase; and how entirely we declined having any part of the money back. I suppose he told you what arrangements to make on that head; so I need say no more of it just now.

We had good news from Scotland and Scotsbrig about a week ago: our Mother, they say, continues unusually well all this winter; is spinning &c: good old Mother! It appears Jamie complains somewhat; and is in a weakly way owing to some kind of biliary trouble: but this is a kind of troubles we are all pretty familiar with; and, in his particular case, as it necessitates him to greater regularity of life, and is not for the present dangerous, it is perhaps not without even some advantage,—tho' an “advantage” not purchased for nothing. The rest, so far as we hear, are all well; and he, and they all, seem to be prospering very tolerably in their affairs.

Jack got his Translation done several months ago, and well done, which is still more. It has been very well received, acknowledged everywhere as a piece of real and faithful work;4 and has indeed fully realised or exceeded all the expectations one could form about it. Perhaps by and by some money even may be realised; but however that may be, I could say to myself confidently enough from the first examination of the thing, “Very well! This is rightly done, and is a work that will keep its value for a long time to come, with all that are fit to judge it!”— The poor Doctor has himself got great comfort, great improvement from it; and tho' still a rather fidgety character, has acquired more composure and dignity of deportment than he ever had before. He is very grey, indeed looks considerably older than I do (who am beginning also to be grey, and to look like my years): nevertheless he is very lively, one might say cheerful and happy; and has very much more of light-heartedness and joyfulness in his composition than any one of us. There are yet two other Parts of Dante, of about the same size as this first one; these also I suppose he silently calculates on doing; but is in no haste about it, till he grow at a loss for employment, or see some definite cash come out of the first.

I myself am not quite idle; but sore beset with the usual confusions; and by much struggling, realise an astonishingly small visibility of result! I have many things to say about the astounding revolutionary time we have got into; but find an almost impossibility of discovering the way to say them! I hope I shall get them said, before I go out of this world: I seem to have little other business to continue there. Jane is pretty well and has been; she is out on a little visit 10 miles off whither I am to walk today—immediately. God's blessing be on you and yours, dear Brother. I will write again before long; and send you more minute news. Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle

They are printing a 3d edition of Cromwell,—which occasions some fash [bother] and will bring some money; but is not otherwise of importance.