July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 15 October 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18581015-TC-AC-01; CL 34: 218-220


Chelsea, 15 Octr, 1858—

My dear Brother,

I have meant this long while to write to you, so soon as the hurlyburly would a little abate and now I had better proceed at once than wait farther. I might have written, with more seeming composure, out of poor old native Annandale, where I was not long since: but there I always felt so sad of heart, and several things (especially poor Jane's health here in London) were so uncertain with me, I never like to infect you with these humours. I am now home after unusual wanderings, one job (or half of a job) done, the other not begun: before beginning, I will ha[ve] a word with dear old Alick, faithful Brother Wayfarer wi[th me on this] Earth almost from my first starting,1 and whose unalterable lo[ve] responded to by my own, is one of the sacred treasures I have still [left] here.

[Th]ose two V[olumes of] Frederick were by far the hardest job ever laid upon me, even in the best of my strength; often enough I thought, within the last two years I have been pulling and toiling, that I shd never get thro' it. I had to ride very diligently, and be canny too; or that sad prophecy might have come true! However, they are now done, those two Volumes (and people all reading them, with much noise whh I take care to hear little of);2—and there are still Two more to be done (perhaps two years of hard work, if I still live); but they are not nearly so difficult, I expect, as the former were, if I can only keep my strength so long!— — I got out of these first Two Volumes in june last, or mainly out of them, for my share: but the Bookseller did not publish them till quite lately, the beginning of this month. A Copy (two big volumes) was sent off to you, and another to Sister Jenny (according to the old rule in such cases), duly addressed, a fortnight ago. When they will get to you I cannot guess, nor by what route the Bookseller ultimately [will send] them; but upon some route they actually are; and you need not be impatient for them farther. I suppose a Yankee Copy,3 cheap, [may be] procurable, if you are too ea[ger] [letter torn] A se[ ] is also [ ] way at its fastest; the people (for the first time in their lives and mine) having made a kind of run upon my ware. Whh amou[nts] to a little prospect of money, but not of any other kind of profit or pleasure to me.— Tell Tom, too, that I have some more volumes for him;4 that there is still another of his set to publish; and that so soon as it is out, I mean to despatch the whole by post as formerly.—

The instant I had got done with my part of the Task, I ran off for Annandale; end of june last;—quite worn to the [gro]und, and in very great need of rest. John, with some of his Boys, was at Scotsbrig; otherwise perhaps I had aimed thither: as it was, I made for The Gill; and continued about two months there, as idle as a dry bone; sauntering abt in strict silence, riding a little, reading a little;—peaceable, but in the natural sadness of humour all the time. Jane, whom [ ] was in very feeble state,—as she is generally, poor thing, for [ ]—and I had a great deal of writing and anxiety [ ] her; nearly all the writing I could prevail on myself to do [ ] is now fa [ . Jane] came to Scotland about the end of August (just when I was leaving; so badly had we ordered it): I now have her here safe again, a little stronger against the winter-storms that are coming. Jean came often out to me from Dumfries; three times or so I rode over to Scotsbrig for an hour or two; Dr and Jamie came [abt] as often to see me: from all the rest of the human species I was silent & withdrawn. A man at 63 has a strange feeling when visiting his native country,—as of a ghost coming back to the Earth! I rode one day, market-day, thro' [An]nan; did not see one soul whose face was known to me; only the old stone-walls were familiar; and strangers gazed at my “wide-awake” hat and old grey beard,—asking, as their fathers or grandfathers would not have needed to do, “Who's that?”— — All our kindred were rather well in Annandale, and doing well. The Railways in that Country still keep farming profitable; California Gold (that is it, I privately believe) keeps all “trade” in a kind of [ ]. Jamie of Scotsbrig is a tight little fellow [ ] greyish as becomes that age; manages his sheep-hus[bandries] spl[ ] with evident success, and indeed is a very [ ] quietly este[emed. Here] has Jack himself come in; and it is time for me, and more than time, to be out. I will write again before so long. Ah me, Ah me!— May God bless you ever, you & yours.

T. Carlyle 5