January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 5 April 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590405-TC-JAC-01; CL 35: 61-65


Chelsea, 5 April, 1859—

My dear Brother,

I have been wearying for a Letter of late, and expecting one from morning to morning; but none comes. The reason, when I reflect, is plainly twofold: most probably I myself am in arithmetical arrear; and in the second place there is probably nothing at Edinr that presses to be said.— I have come up stairs, however, to write to you this night; whh is the next best thing.

You asked me once about poor John Welsh; and I doubt I made no answer. The truth is, we know little of him, except in general the sad fact, that he is wearing weaker; that Bence Jones has no hope of him, and considers that, since autumn last, all efforts are intrinsically useless or worse. He (B. Jones) wrote twice to Jane, to that effect in very delicate tones, not long after you left, and probably in consequence of your visit to him. John Welsh too wrote to the like practical purport, and seemed almost provoked that the matter should be stirred farther. Jane has had at most two other Letters from him; very distinct, quiet, brave; giving graphic descriptions of the Fox people1 and their ways, who are very kind to him; and saying little, in the way of complaint nothing, about his own situation: the winter temperature very favourable to him; nothing sensibly worse; daily or almost daily walks, sometimes near an hour; cough troublesome &c. From his Mother's Letters whh are more frequent there can nothing be gathered, except incidentally; poor woman she tries to speak always in the language of cheerfulness, tho’ one can see that there is no hope in her. Most of the Fox people are off lately towards Rome; but one, an old Naturalist,2 very good and honest, is still left. Poor John & his Mother propose to return to Richmond soon;—and it was by the Mother's anxiety about the first part of this journey (40 miles not in railway) that we drew our saddest inferences last time she wrote. Alas, alas!—

But I must tell you about Butler's3 Letter, whh is here inclosed. He is my American who did the last Yankee Bond4 in the way you know: an excellt old gentn, to judge by physiognomy, and by other tests that have come in my way: had I got this Letter at the time I expected one and got none,5 I had probably sent all my cash for him to invest. As it is, I will now make no change in the Debentures and Preference Shares (4 per cent each);6 but I mean to send Butler another £1,000 whh I still have: except that the interest is so extremely good,7 I have not the least reason to question his judgement. He works in that business as his trade, is thoroughly well affected to me, and I found him a prudent considerate kind of character & much the gentleman in appearance, manners & conduct. So the £1,000, I suppose, must go, tho' at £70 annually. You perceive he has still room for 2 other Thousands: but I confess I am almost rather glad the others (of mine) are quietly settled, on different bottoms; so that it will take three thunderbolts to sink them all.— For the rest, I design to try if Adamson8 cannot manage both to send the money for me, and to gather up from Butler all the legal threads (both of this sum and of the former one), so as to hold good vouchers in case of any accident to me or to Br,—and on the whole to trouble me no farther with the thing at all, except by receiving the half-yearly dividends.9 For the rest, I will do nothing, not even write to Adamson, till I hear from from10 you. Pray read Butler then; and return him to me; so soon as you have come to clear understanding about it.

Alan Ker was here; had been 3 or 4 months in this Country, with wife & child,11 but at Manchester mostly; did not appear here till within a fortnight of his departure (3 weeks ago or so), and all I saw of him was, one night, an hour or two over tea. He is hardly changed, or if at all rather for the better; a shade less croaky and uneasy in his skin;—translating German &c (I strongly advised him to write upon the Niggers) as he has nothing to do.12 Dominica13 [was] a glorious present to get from her Majesty, if [one] were 40 years younger! Size of the Isle of Wight or bigger;14 rising grand with Mahogany woods tropical üppigkeit [luxuriance], and a grand extinct-volcano15 (whh g[rows] fine coffee and is wholesome as Tempe)16 in the cen[tre] of it:populatn 100 whites, 28,000 blacks, and perhaps 3,000 yellows;17 Parlt of13 members;18 1 mu[l]atto tinsmith the Derby19 of the institn, the Henry Dr[um]mond jet black,20 and one hon. member a whit[e] specimen.21 It is not worth a farthing to her Majesty as at present managed22 (they have to send f[or]23 Frenchmen even to quench riots,—and a boat's crew with cutlasses cd take it at any time.24

James Currie25 has sent me three specimens of Tobacco: just opened this night (or rather only one of them yet opened, so busy am I); there had been some correspondence with Irving & Co26 abt getting it out of the Customhouse (5 or 6 lb of it in all), and Shakspeare the Milkman27 has opened the Mauritius sample (Bourbon is the 2d, 3d I forget what, neither of whh are yet opened): I find it eminently good,—and send you a pinch or two; try it in a clean pipe, and you will find it excel Havannah almost. Very kind of James Currie; tell me what his Address is:—I have laid the thing all by again in a dry place; suppose we wait till you come before opening it!—

I am getting on slower & slower; woe's me! For the rest Jane keeps on foot; never was finer weather: I rode by Streatham and Clapham28 today, thro’ all manner of silent lanes and green spaces,—beautiful extremely, had not one's poor heart been so shut & sad.

I heard from Jean the other day; & sent her the Fraser just come out,—where you will see a Paper by Mill (on “Reform” forsooth),29 quite enthusiastic about nothing at all.— What “the ministers did” yesternight,30 and who or what now is ministry I have not the least notion (having spoken to nobody all day), nor any desire peceptible31 to get one.

Adieu, dear Brother; I have still “Notes” to write: adieu

Your affecte /

T. Carlyle