January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 6 August 1830; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18300806-TC-JAC-01; CL 5:128-134.


Craigenputtoch, 6th August, 1830—

My Dear Jack,

These last two Wednesdays I expected to hear from you, as perhaps on the corresponding Saturdays you did from me; so it seems better to have no more shying in the matter, but that I should write forthwith; especially as this Letter may still reach you on Monday, and so find the London one not yet started from its moorings.

I sympathize in your reluctance to enter on the practice of Medicine, or indeed of any Professional Duty; well understanding the difficulties that lie at the porch of all, and threaten the solitary adventurer. Neither can I be surprised at your hankering after a Literary Life, so congenial as I have often heard you hint it would be to your tastes.1 Nevertheless, it would greatly astonish me, if beyond mere preliminary reveries, these feelings produced any influence on your conduct. The voice of all Experience seems to be in favour of a Profession: you sail there, as under convoy, in the middle of a fleet, and have a thousandfold chance of reaching port. Neither is it Happy Islands and Halcyon Seas alone that you miss; for Literature is thickly strowed with cold Russian Nova Zemblas,2 where you shiver and despair in loneliness; nay often, as in the case of this Literary History of Germany, you anchor on some slumbering whale, and it ducks under and leaves you spinning in the eddies.3 To my own mind nothing justifies me for having adopted the trade of Literature, except the remembrance that I had no other, except these two that of a schoolmaster or of a Priest, in the one case with the fair prospect of speedy maceration and starvation, in the other, of perjury which is infinitely worse. As it is, I look confidently forward to a life of poverty, toil, and dispiritment, so long as I remain on this Earth, and hope only that God will grant me patience and strength to struggle onwards thro' the midst of it, working out His will, as I best can, in this lonely claypit where I am set to dig. The pitifullest of all resources is complaining, which accordingly I strive not to practice: only let these things be known for my Brother's warning, that he may order his Life better than I could do mine. For the rest, I pretend not to thwart your own judgement, which ought to be mature enough for much deeper considerations; neither would I check these overflowings of discouragement, poured as they naturally should be, into a Brother's ear; but after all that is come and gone, I expect to learn that your Medical Talent, sought over all Europe, and indisputably the most honourable a man can have, is no longer to be hidden in a napkin, still less to be thrown away into the lumber-room, but to come forth into the light of day, for your own profit and that of your fellow men.4

Tell me, therefore, dear Jack, that you are in your own Lodging; resolute, compacted, girt for the fight; at least endeavouring to do your true duty. Now, as ever, I have predicted that success was certain for you; my sole fear is that such wavering, and waiting at the pool, may in the end settle into a habit of fluctuation and irresolution, far enough from your natural character; a fear which, of course, every new week spent in drifting to and fro, tends to strengthen. I think, your scale of expences accurate and moderate; neither is there much difficulty, connected as you are, in finding means to meet it: Montague's Translating and Index-making is indeed drudgery, and goes against the grain; meantime be thankful that you have such an outlook. The Foreign Quarterly Review, the Edinburgh, all manner of other vehicles are open for your speculation when you are in humour for that kind of effort, which however should not be too often made, or it produces the saddest of all exhaustion.5 Above all, fear nothing, Jack! Men are but poor spindle-shanked, wiffling wonners [wonders (in a derogatory sense)] when you clutch them thro' the mass of drapery they wear; to throw twenty of them over the house-ridge were no such feat for a right fellow: neither is their favour, their envy, admiration, or anything the poor devils can give or withhold, our life or our death: nay, the worst we and they fear is but a bugbear, a hollow shadow which if you grasp it and smite it, dissolves into air. March boldly up to it and to them; strong and still; like the Stars, ohne Hast doch ohne Rast [without haste but without rest]!6 There is a soul in some men yet, even yet; and God's sky is above us, and God's commandment is in us, und wär die Welt von Teufeln voll, wir fürchten uns nicht so sehr—es soll uns doch gelingen.7 Up and be doing! Be my Brother and Life-Companion not in word and feeling only but in deepest deed!—

I must break off here into something more practical. Of our situation here and at Scotsbrig there is little to be said at present: we are all as we were; our Father too, so far as accounts go yesterday, is neither better nor worse; still languid and dejected, without any appearance of great bodily suffering or even excessive weakness; our Mother and the rest not complaining. I am to be down ere long, and will tell you better. But for the present I have a whole load of commissions to try your patience with, and must turn thither.

First with regard to the Bridgewater, Inddia-ship [sic], I have engaged to the Stroquhan people (who are living in trembling hope and fear about the fate of their Brother and his whole family embarked therein) that you will get the best information, which is to be had in London, about the real chances of safety or destruction for this ship:8 I believe, it sailed from Penang, of which place the Governor also was in it, and a son (or perhaps this was he) of the India Directors' chairman; it was seen last in the straits of Sunda, and must either have perished or taken refuge in Bombay. Many of your friends will be able to put you on the right track for inquiry; at Lloyds, or at the India-house, or elsewhere: Strachey, for instance: and if you knew the state of frightful suspense in which Miss Anderson and her poor old sick Mother are, you would not be angry at me for giving you this trouble, or grudge any effort to help them in their distress.

Secondly, with regard to that Fraserio-Whittakerian Manuscript of the Lit. Hist. of Germany, get it out of their claws, if you have not, as I trust, already done so; to which now add an Article on Schiller that Fraser has, that he talked of giving to some Magazine or other, but that I desire to have the privilege of giving or retaining myself; being minded, as I said already, to have no more business transactions with that gentleman.9 Get the two manuscripts therefore, dear Jack, and wrap them up tightly till I send for them. The Schiller by and by I intend for the Foreign Q. Review: about the History I wrote to Gleig10 (Colburn's Editor of some Library of General Knowledge) three weeks ago: and again today, having received no answer: Fraser offered to negociate for me there in a Letter he sent last week, but he need not mingle farther in the matter, I think. If you have any means of ascertaining or accelerating the final decision I should like: however you need not mind much; if I do not hear in a week, I will decide for myself, and cut Gleig as I have done other Editors, and try some different method of realizing a pound or two. Get you the MSS. in the first place. Tait, to whom I wrote, ‘declines’; I am now got as far as Luther, and if I can get no Bookseller, I will stop short there, and for the present slit it up into Review Articles, and publish it that way.— Magazine Fraser11 has never offered me a doit for Richter's Critique,12 and not even printed it all: if you can get any cash from the fellow, it will come in fine stead just now, when I have above £200 worth of writing returned on my hand, and no Fortunatus Hat13 close by.— Adieu Jack! We are poor men, but nothing worse. Your Brother T. Carlyle

The inclosures all Numbered (in the order they are to be read in).— No. I. [This is written beneath the address on the reverse of the cover and could be seen after the letter was folded and sealed.]

No. 2

My Dear Jack,—

Since the inclosed Letter was finished, I have somewhat extended my schemes, and altered its conveyance. I have, at your suggestion, sent that miserable dud of ‘Cruthers and Johnson,’ to Fraser, with two other Papers: certain abstruse ‘Thoughts on History,’ and a small scantling of my Fables and Rhymes (or rather one Rhyme: ‘What is Hope’):14 you are to correct the Proofs if there be any printing: ‘Cruthers and Johnson’ is to be forthwith returned to you, if found unsuitable; and the name in any case kept strictly secret. Lastly, I have told the man to deliver you the Payment (if any) for that Jean-Paul'sche Recension; and if possible to let you have your Letter on Monday before Post time.— This is all that I have done, and you can forward it if you have any opportunity. If not, prithee kind Doctor, do not value it one pin's point: I can do whether they print my trash in their Magazine or not, and what they and all men may think of it there or elsewhere.— Of course I mean MAGAZINE FRASER!— Get my Schiller from the other, and I have done with him.

Having a little scrap of room here, I will put down a word or two of news for you. We have got a Gig here (bought, not paid, at £10 between Alick and me); a fine stout, substaintial [sic] oldfashioned, bottle-green vehicle, as ugly, as light and as sure, as Philosopher could desire it. The large beast Madge runs in it marvellously: so does Larry for Alick & Mary, who keep no other riding-horse; Jane goes down in it tomorrow to Dumfries with Bretton. This is a kind of innovation for us.

Secondly the Jeffreys are coming hither in the end of August. Farther, we are threatened with Sandy Donaldson;15 also with Robert Welsh16 and ‘a Friend,’ tho only to breakfast. Henry Inglis too17—whose father is dead at Havre, and who himself is gone to Paris ‘to see the Revolution.’ Visiters [sic] enough with a blessing!— Jeffrey is the only sound-hearted well-intentioned visiter among them: poor Henry means well, but there is a law in his members; he still hovers between Death and Life.

Thirdly we have had three Letters from Goethe, the first and most important of which I send you a copy of, made many months ago for you; the contents of which will not fail to surprise you. That Craigenputtoch should be engraved in Weimar! The next Letter, however, told us that the Publication of Schiller had been put off for some time that the geschmückte Exemplar [illustrated copy] would not come with the first Box but soon afterwards, with the Lieferungen [serial parts] of his Werke [Works]. That promised First Box came actually; contained strange things, Goethe's Farbenlehre [Science of Color], the remaining Proofs of Schiller, two Pictures of Goethe's Houses, the Gartenhaus and Haus in Weimar. This was a fortnight ago. So that THE Exemplar is soon to be looked for, with the indiscreet preface, the views of Craigenputtoch, and of Schiller's Wohnung in Weimar [dwelling in Weimar], and of his little Gartenhaus in Jena, for they are all to be there. Why, this is voonders upon voonders!

Lastly, there came that same night, a Parcel of Books from Paris (how, except that they were last at Edinr, I cannot guess) and a Letter addressed to the writer of the Caractère de notre époque (“Signs of the Times”)18 dans la Révue d'Edinbourg, from the strangest of all Societies, the Societé St-Simonienne (or Disciples of St Simon who are founding a New Religion there at present [)]. Do you see any French Periodicals in London; can you get any informa-[tion] [breaks off—enclosure 3. missing]

(No 4)

You will never be able to make out all these scraps, which tho', it is late now, I have great pleasure in scribbling.— Do not neglect to write duly and long and frankly. We are very poor, as I said, at present; but that is all, and we will get over that. Fear nothing: we mean nothing but honest things, and must and will prosper in them, seeing the very effort is success.

Consult with your kind Friends, and harden not your heart,19 but “lie open to light.”20 They know London, know the world, and something also of you. They will advise you for the best. At the same time, take serious, earnest, practical advice of yourself.— Give our kindest love to Mrs Montague. I will now go and seek you three Rose-leaves that grew in Craigenputtoch (for we have plenty this year) which will be quite withered before they reach you, but nevertheless have some perfume left. We are very braw [fine] about the doors; have large trees transplanted outside the Garden-dike, walks gravelled &c &c. Again dear Jack, adieu! Your true Brother

T. C.

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