January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 10 April 1830; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18300410-TC-JAC-01; CL 5:89-93.


Craigenputtoch, 10th April, 1830—

My Dear Jack,

I must write you a few hurried lines, tho' I am far, far back with my day's-work, lest you get too anxious. We are very glad to learn that you have come to a fixed resolution, and what is better begun to put it in execution.1 For the thousandth time, I repeat that I think there is no fear of you, so will but set your shoulder stoutly to the wheel. Write your Papers then, the best you are able; think with yourself, take counsel with your kind Friends; and dread no evil issue. A time of toil, of obscurity and dissatisfaction you must look for: but ‘a free field for you and no favour,’ say I; and the day will not go against you. Keep a hank and spingit, as Joe Elliott was wont to advise:2 the world is wide, and our Doil will make himself a place there. The very thought that he is attempting such a thing will be as oil to his head. Once on his own legs, I hardly know the man I would not pit him against.

Now tell us how you get on with your Translations, and Speculations; and what face the world wears towards you. Have you ever written to your Baron3 yet, about those Letters Introductory to the Germans resident in London? I think they might do you good: it is at least one little corner of the medical vineyard not likely to be so crowded with labourers. What of Sprengel?4 I understand Murray5 to be a dilatory, imperative, unmanageable sort of fellow; out of whom, unless you are a Bishop or have some seal in the Privy Council no good is to be got; scarcely so much as a civil or even definite answer. If he will not have your services, let him ‘go to Jerusalem’6 and seek better. The world is not so all-wise or so all-foolish but a sensible man that has any useful word to speak, may find plenty of encouragement to speak it. In one word, dear Doctor and Brother, wear a head upon thy shoulders, and a heart within thy sternum: look out sharply what is to be done, and do it with all thy might and speed. And so God bless thee, Jack; and keep thee always in poverty or wealth, my true Brother!

I must now narrate this and the other; how we are all ‘getting on’ here. God be thanked we are all afoot still; no sick body or broken heart among us. Our Mother is still here; your Letter reached her about a week ago. She is waiting chiefly, I believe, till Alick return from the House in the Moor Fair, whither he is gone this morning to sell his sheep; having gone in vain the foregoing week, so bad was the Sale; and returned, on Larry, for the intervening days, to get along with his sowing. He cannot account himself a prosperous Farmer at present, as what Farmer is?—and knows not whether he will keep this place another year: however, there are no bones broken, and we will decide the best we can when the time comes. Our Mother is very tolerably well; so, we hear, are the Scotsbrig people. It is growing spring, the larches will all be green one of those days, the Birds seem already wedded, and Men are getting their crops in as they can. My Weibchen has the ‘Factor,’7 as Alick calls him, daily delving in the Garden, at the slowest of rates, yet happily he is near done now. He leaves us at Whitsunday, rather to our regret and now, I believe, greatly to his own; he has made a very considerable improvement in the look of things here, and has no fault but his vanity, which is considerable. We get ‘Canny’ Bretton, once herdsboy at Mainhill, in his stead, and flatter ourselves it is fair exchange.

I myself am writing daily at that History, not without spirit; and in spite of Booksellers, Carriers, Nature and my stars. Tell Fraser I shall surely have the first Volume ready for Press, early in May; [I] wish much to get forward fast with the printing of it. Those [books] he sent by a ‘private hand’ seem never to have been delivered: they had not reached Edinr ten days ago, but perhaps will come tomorrow. I can do without them; I will do without everything and all things; I have sworn it. Will you tell Mrs Strachey that I got a Book from Mr Greaves with a highly flattering Note, 8 for which I beg that she would heartily thank him in my name. Gleig's project of Goethe's Life seems to be dropt, and he wants greatly to know when I could let him have my Life of Luther.9 Nimmer und niemals [Not now or ever]! I rather believe. When I write that Book of the great German Lion, it shall be the best Book I have ever written, and go forth, I think, on its own legs. Do you know, we are actually talking of spending the next winter in Weimar; and preparing all the raw material of right Luther, there at the fountain-head. That, of course, if I can get this History done, and have the cash.— George Johnstone has left Marsden, and settled, on favourable terms, Simpson told me, somewhere in Cheshire.10 I will get you his address the first free chance I have; sooner if you want it.—Tell the noble Mrs Montague that she has not sunk but risen in my regards; that some spare-hour ere long shall be hers and my own. You must kindly remember me to Mrs Strachey, and may if you like go often to see her. I reckon her one of the deepest-hearted and on the whole best women I have ever known. But tell not this in Bedford-square!11— Also forget not again to speak of the Kitty that was.12— Make my compliments to Allan Cunningham: have you ever seen William Gray?13 My friendliest regards to Edward Irving, and your worthy Hostess (who should have stood first), not forgetting the young Doctor.14 All here greet you heartily

Ever your affectionate—

T. Carlyle

The Examiner comes with perfect regularity; and tho' a week old is a great blessing. Continue it, if you can. Nay, if it came on Saturday (that is half a week old) this were perhaps the best of all arrangements. No Spectator in the world is worthy to snuff the candle to it, tho' it too is a Radical and half-infidel. Has Fraser settled with the Rivingtons?15 Poor fellow! Tell him I will stand by him to all lengths in honesty, for he deserves it. Jeffrey is about going to London:16 if I can manage to get you his address in time, you may go and call on him[.] Our Mother is sitting with Jane in the Parlour (after tea), I must carry them this (from the Library) to read. Write soon; and so a hundred good-nights!— Is the Magazine to live or die?17 I have never seen it yet; but sent for it last week from the dud of a Publisher.

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