January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 12 July 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310712-TC-JAC-01; CL 5:301-304.


Craigenputtoch, 12th July 1831—

My Dear Brother,— I wrote last Thursday under cover to the Ld Advocate, which Letter perhaps you have before this received: however not knowing the right address, I was obliged to address the M.P. “at London,” so that some delay may have occurred. Alick and I were down at the Kirk on Sunday (I went, for the first time these many months, because of the Irish Collection1), and there your Letter was lying; which demands a quite instantaneous reply. I regretted greatly that no device of mine could take effect sooner than tonight (for Harry is still unrideable): but as if it had been some relief, I made ready another Letter for your Behoof (of which anon) that very night, and have had it lying here, sealed, ever since. It was a Letter to Bowring, requesting him to pay the Nibelungen Article forthwith into your hands: I did this as courteously as possible, and imagine he will not fail. However, a day or two may elapse; and in the mean while you have nothing. Had I been at Dumfries, I would have got a Bank of England note; but there is none such here: we have not even a better than this of one pound (tho' I tried to borrow a five, in vain): so you must receive it as our poor non-plus-ultra. Take it to William Hamilton2 in Cheapside; say your Brother was sending you money &c, and requested that he would give you a sovereign for this. If Bowring do not send before it is done, I think you may call on him. I suppose there will be three sheets, and their pay is only ten guineas. Take off it what you have need of till I come. Write also a word on the Paper to say how it is, and you are. I have had you little out of my head since sunday last.3

Shocking as your situation is, however, we all here agree that it is more hopeful than we have ever yet had clear argument to think it. Thank God you have done no wrong: your conscience is free, and you yourself are there. We all reckon that your Conduct in that matter of Jeffrey's £20 was entitled to be called heroic. Sooner or later, my dear Brother, it must have come to this, namely, that your own miscellaneous industry could not support you in London, and that you ceased to borrow: better, we say, now than later. Bear up, front it bravely: there are friendly eyes upon you, and hearts praying for you. Were we once together, it will be peremptorily necessary to consider how the land lies, and what is to be done. In all situations (out of Tophet) there is a Duty, and our highest blessedness lies in doing it.—4 I know not whether Jeffrey may be able to do anything for you; he speaks to me rather more hopefully than he seems to have done to you:5 I can have no doubt of his wish, but some of his ability. Could you fix on anything as possible and feasible yourself, and have only to ask his furtherance, he would give it gladly.— He represents himself as on the outlook for me too: for I told him I was thinking of London; felt ready to work at ANY honest thing whatsoever; did not see that Literature could support an honest man otherwise than à la Diogenes; in which fashion too I meant to experiment, if nothing else could be found, which however, thro all channels of investigation, I was minded to try. He wrote back asking what manner of Clerkship in Excise offices, at the Board of Longitude &c &c I detested least: I answered that I liked them all; if he heard of any, to let me know instantly. I do not expect that he will be able to accomplish anything for me. I must even get thro' life without a trade, always in poverty, as far better men have done. Our want is the want of Faith. Jesus of Nazareth was not poor tho' he had not where to lay his head. Socrates was rich enough.— I have a deep, irrevocable all-comprehending Ernulphus Curse to read upon—GIGMANITY;6 that is the Baal worship of this time.

I shall study to be with you about the beginning of August. I have written as you suggested to Napier for a note to Longman; also for payment of what he owes me. I am struggling forward with Dreck, sick enough, but not in bad heart. I think the world will nowise be enraptured with this (medicinal) Devil's Dung;7 that the critical republic will cackle vituperatively or perhaps maintain total silence: à la bonne heure [well and good]! It was the best I had in me; what God had given me, what the Devil shall not take away.

I am very glad the Seal is about done, and in a way that satisfies you. The Earth and Bandelier once removed, I had no other objection. Will you now inquire punctually when the Steamboats go away (in how many days it is sure to reach Hamburg): I think I must scribble some Letter to go with it, and send it off to Fraser to get copied and signed. If I can manage so, it shall be sent off on Sunday next—under frank —

I hope, the Books have arrived. Tell me whether or not. We only heard about their new destination a few days ago (Barker had sent one Letter which never came). I should have written to our Mother tonight, but cannot, I am so far back with my “Chapter on Symbols.” I am at the 132nd page: there may be some 170; but much of it is half-written.— Be of good cheer, my dear Brother! Behave wisely and continue to trust in God. No doubt, HE sent you hither, to work out His will: it is man's mission; and blessedness, could he but rightly walk in it. Write to me; trust in me. Ever Your Brother,

T. Carlyle—

—Jane is not at all well of late weeks: she is sometimes talking of consulting you, by Letter—I have a very ugly headache (it is between dinner and tea: I am in your old upper room, to avoid noises); so I will write no more. Tea will cure my headache. I usually go idle at this hour.— Alick is ploughing his potatoes.

A Letter went off to Badams8 (as I predicted) that night: it was directed 7. Lancaster Place. I preached up “Stoical Religion,” and a contempt of the Outward. I fear poor Badams has done something questionable: that is the worst, the only real misery; but even that is not despair.