January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 1 May 1830; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18300501-TC-JAC-01; CL 5:95-99.


Craigenputtoch, 1st May 1830—

My Dear Brother Jack,

I meant to write last Wednesday; but was in a dreadful hurry, not having done with my task; and thought the Newspaper would answer instead. I forgot that I [had] some little thing to tell you, which might not so well wait: and tho' quite worn out tonight, having written like a Turk all day, I will send notice about that, at all events. You are to understand that Philosophe Jeffrey mit Weib und Kind [with wife and child]1 is in London; and I think it will at all events gratify you for half an hour to go and call on him. His specific address, he writing from Edinburgh could not give me; but said that anything directed (I think, for the man writes miserably):2 ‘J. Richardson, 21. Fludyer Street, Westminister,’ would find him; and that ‘nothing would give him greater pleasure than to see my Brother.’ So spier [inquire] him out, if you like; and go and show face; your face will tell your errand sufficiently, and you will find Mr J. one of the daintiest, kindliest, best little men you ever set eyes on: a perfect jewel of a man. Whether he can do anything for you I know not; but if he can, it will give him great pleasure to do it. At all events, you will find a well-wisher there for my sake, and your own. And so, let this be considered settled.

Much it delights me, my dear Jack, to figure you now as in the way of clear well-doing; and that I can write to you without any little grudge or reservation, as to my worthy and well-beloved Brother, struggling forward beside me in the battle of Life; to whom I can give an ‘Euge [Good luck]!’ and word of encouragement if nothing more. Do not work too hard, for there is a measure in all things; do not encounter those ‘dull headaches’ lest they lead to something worse. Neither take too deep thought for the morrow: I care not, why should you care, how you prosper outwardly, so your heart and bearing be that of a true man; let the world take its own sway: ‘meat, clothes and fire’3 are all that Rothschild or Guelf4 himself can wring out of it. There is no Act of Parliament in Heaven's Chancery that you or I are to be rich men, or famous men; only the sternest and solemnest enactment that we are to be good men, ‘diligent in business and fervent in spirit’5—reverencing the inscrutable God, and ‘friendly at once and fearless towards all that God has made.’

I long much to hear more minutely of your progress, and outlooks: pray take a large sheet, and fill it well with all this; not in a hurry, tho' you should miss the Post: we will get it three days later. When the printing of that Book begins, we shall have frequent opportunities, and it will be as of old in the days of M'Corkindale!6

There is nothing but favourable, at least indifferent tidings to send you hence; inasmuch as we are all alive and stirring, the most of us very busy. Alick got your Letter, and will write (he tells me this evening) when the first Parcel goes. He is very busy afield; has got his rent not paid, yet settled for this term, and signified officially that if times do not greatly mend, he must remove next Whitsunday; so that one bad business is for the time put by. Elliott is mowing greens (or rather the green) and laying out a new one most beautiful to look on where the Peatstack stood; and gravelling Garden walks; and working miracles in all directions. Jane goes out about him, and sees the ‘Defence of Order’ practically manifested: for the rest, she sits beside me here where I write, and reads or sews, and never utters Mum. I myself am toiling, as I have said, with impetuosity; writing from three to four pages daily (when it is easy, alas! many a day I have hammered my brains from morning to night, and written nothing): the first volume is to be done in a fortnight. I am now in the heart of the Nibelungen Lied, which I like much. The Book will be worth next to nothing, yet readable enough, and will do no mischief. I long and pray only that it were off my hands: for Compilation, and this is or can be little more, in the present state of things, pleaseth me little.

These fine days often bring me in mind of last Spring and you. Nay I have now mounted your hair cap,7 and ride with it (or rather mean to do so) when wind is up. I have been out three or four mornings lately in that way; for I get off sleep, and grow billus when scribbling. But as for the Cap, I will prize it above all caps, and think when it hangs on the cloakpin that I hear the voice of poor Doil, saying Brother remember me! Yes, my brave Doil, I will remember thee, and thy true heart, so long as memory lives within me.— But let us avoid the pathetic— Here is supper come!

Your Book-Parcel came duly in the very nick of time. I want nothing more for the first volume: could you get me a Luthers Werke (I think, Walch's with the Life, in the middle)8 I should be set afloat for Vol. Second too. Luden's Leben des Thomasius9 was sent for, and will perhaps come: I can do whether or not. The last two volumes will be plainer sailing: from Lessing to Goethe.— Can you tell me what Fraser is doing? But I suppose I shall hear from him on Wednesday.10 The two Town & Country Magazines11 have come; and are far better than I expected; a little too braggadocio—some, indeed, utter juit [weak, insipid drink], as that of the three Guiseppes.12 Tell the Editor that I will answer his Letter by deed (I hope) some day, had I more leisure: Fraser13 was to tell him the same thing.— Thank your kind friend and host14 for his little Book, great part of which I read that afternoon: but my Mother got it and carried it down with her, she seemed so anxious I could not refuse. In my humble opinion, if the common interpretation of the Bible is to be followed, our friend is perfectly right, nay indubitably and palpably so: at all events, the gainsayers are utterly, hopelessly, and stone-blindly wrong. My Mother who is a better judge than I, declared it to be soundest doctrine, often preached in her hearing[.]

She went away, that good Mother, precisely this day fortnight: Alick took her down; she ‘did not like to go with Elliott, at least no so weel.’ I have heard little specific since Alick returned: but understand and believe them to be all well. Mary is for Annan Fair on Thursday and will bring us fresh word.— Here comes the Newspaper up from Alick's and I must fold the same. Do you get it rightly? Is it worth sending? It does come from the able Editor, who sends it at half-price— God ever bless you my dear Brother! And so good night! good night!

T. Carlyle

We have heard that Goethe's Box got safe to Hamburg; but not yet from himself.15— O Jack, Jack I was never more tired, in my opinion, these seven years. I awoke at five—and swallowed Oleum Diaboli!16 The two Examiners came on Wednesday: we like them much. Things are not so certain to come on Saturday (tho' still very likely and sure for next Wednesday) Moniaive being much indicted to liquor. Walter Bell and Johnston (?) [Carlyle's query] the immense Cattle-dealers ‘broke all to shards’ last Wednesday: amount of debt not known (say 30,000): Johnston supposed to have played foul, Bell not. The Fox is worrying lambs here, not ours yet; for he lives in our wood and hill: they were out (Nethertown &c that is) yesterday hunting him: chaced [sic] him to Straquhan & back—umsonst [in vain]!