October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 27 August 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330827-TC-JAC-01; CL 6:423-429.


Craigenputtoch, 27th August, 1833—

My Dear Brother,

All the pains I had taken were well rewarded on Sunday evening, when your Letter1 came. It has solaced me here, and will give no less solacement to those that love you elsewhere: I will send it off, as you conjecture, to Scotsbrig, tomorrow. We can now know that you are safe so far, and send our wishes after you with new clearness. My Mother said: “we'll no be sae ill, if we had the first Letter frae him.” On Friday or Saturday (the former, as I calculate) a like comfort must be provided for you in return.

Your Steamboat, that agitated day, had scarcely cleared the Pierhead,2 when I was stripping and bathing; my head and my heart, like your own, all full of painful obstruction and confusion. It was half an hour before we set sail again, and near two o'clock before we reached the Annan shore. We could see your vessel storming along with you, already far to the West; and not we only, but all your other Friends each from his several hillside had seen it and watched it, and could tell at what hour it had vanished behind St Bees. Our Mother “took a good greet” when she saw it start off; but then checked herself, she said, with the question: Could she really wish it had not gone? At my return to Scotsbrig, all was grown calm again; our good Mother had rallied herself, and summoned up better thoughts: Jamie said to me, He had never seen her so sair beat with anything. Most of the Scotsbrig hands went off to Catlinns that same afternoon to help Alick next day with his hay; so my Mother and I remained alone, and had leisure for a little quiet communing. She could not help remarking how much more ominous your former departure was, into vague Space as it were, yet how she had borne it; and already Hope, that springs eternal, was glimmering out for her. If it be God's merciful will, we shall yet all live to see your Steamboat come foaming up the Solway, and bringing you safe back to us. I saw it once so from the Landheads Brae; and should be thankful for the feeling as long as I live.

Next morning betimes Jamie and I were mounted for Catlinns, and breakfasted there with a numerous haymaking party; conjecturing that you might be already in the Mersey;3 treating this and all things in the tone of Hope. I soon set forth, and plodded wearisomely thro' the Moors to Templand, where I arrived before Dinner, with such a jaded road-worn woe-worn sort of feeling as you can conceive. The Sunday proved too wet for Dunscore, I went to Closeburn and there heard Corson,4 uttering the wonderfullest jumble of affectations, imitations, wind and froth: not till next evening did we reach home, and find ourselves once more thoroughly alone. The sorrowfullest blank had occur[r]ed here; for me I could not but feel so harried, so bereaved; the half of my world was gone, and nothing of it remained but self-reproaching recollections and other the like shadows or foreshadows which could not profit. This day week I had all the disposition in the world to sit down and write to you, and pour out my heart into yours; but I feared it might derange our previous plan, fancied you might not have arrived, and so forth; and thus happily restrained myself; happily, for it would have been all in the elegaic strain, sad confessions, beggings of forgivenness [sic], which I know you would have heartily granted, nay had already granted; thus what could it serve for but to add sorrow to sorrow? On the whole, I have striven to banish all unproductive pain as fast as I might; and am thro' that first stage of the matter with less suffering than I expected. From Scotsbrig too I heard on Thursday (of date exactly this night week), and learned that all stood well there; our Mother in her usual mood: they had got your Newspapers on the Sunday; on the Catlinns one had deciphered “Saturday Noon,” and were waiting quietly for more. You must not fail to write to our Mother; she told me she could not make you promise to write to her often, for you could not be convinced how cheap she reckoned the post-price of your Letters; I told her you were now grown very punctual about promises, and would probably be better than your word.

This, dear Brother, is our history since you left us. Nothing has occurred here, except the arrival, on Friday last, of a Piano-tuner, who for the small charge of 5/6 has rehabilitated the Piano, and brought me again the luxury of sweet sounds. We carried the poor instrument into the Dining-room, to avoid the coming frosts, and there nightly I can have my tunes: it stands where the half-table did against the wall right opposite the window; the sofa is moved into its place, and the half-table into the sofa's, in the Drawing-room. Let me add also (for you love all these things) that Napoleon,5 as too large for his station, has been moved into this Library of mine, under his kinsman Byron, and your little Italian vase, with Goethe's medals in it and other etceteras, now stands in his place. The only other arrival was, on Sunday at dinner-time, that of the American Emerson,6 Gustave d'Eichthal's man;7 the most amiable creature in the world, who spent an apparently very happy four-and-twenty hours with us, and then went his way to Wordsworth's Lakes, to Liverpool, and home to Massachussets [sic] on Sunday next. We regretted that you had not seen him, as he that he had not found you in Rome. Of d'Eichthal he could tell me nothing, except that they parted a few weeks ago when you left them, the one for Florence and England, the other for Naples: indeed it appeared they had in reality met only once or twice. If you fall in with d'Eichthal, it will perhaps be friendly if you rather press yourself on him; I figure him to be somewhat shrouded up within his own sorrow and regret, and understand his family are anxious to have his mind by all means diverted and cheerfully aroused. Tell him that he has much affectionate esteem from me; that if he will come and see us here, we will give him the most cordial welcome. I suppose you will see his friends in Paris at any rate; and be able there to tell me something more definite about him.

This is Tuesday evening: probably you have seen Lady Clare, or are perhaps even now consulting with her. We shall long to hear what arrangements have been made, how you like the aspect of your enterprise. It were more cheerful for us if Miss Morris8 too went with you, but this perhaps is no longer a possibility. At all events one likes to think you have seen so pure a friendly creature, and will again see her. If she will accept my hearty good wishes and regards, pray offer them her; say that for her friends' sake we love her, and hope one day perhaps to know her better. As for your Business itself, I discern far fewer risks than there were the former time; yet one risk, which you have well to guard against: that of letting the tedium of it get the better of you, that of feeling too painfully that you are above it. Beware especially of this; always remind yourself that you have undertaken a duty, that you must and will honestly address yourself, in doing and suffering, to discharge it like a man. But indeed, it gives me great comfort to reflect what strength there has grown up in you for this as for all emergencies; how you promise to increase in calm wisdom, in intelligent activity, and do your part as is required of you. I cannot but see too that your mood of mind is the right one for you: nay, at bottom, as you often urged, were the right one for me also: your earnest counsels for Tolerance will not fail of their effect on me; such are at all times wholesome mementos, and forever true on their own side, and I know not why I should so often have taken them up at your hands under the argumentative aspect. Perhaps it was like a patient wincing under a bitter drug, which yet when over had its salutary tendencies. Continue, however, to hold on steadfastly by the light, by the faith that is in you. Quit not that for assembled worlds; for Devils (in one's own heart) which are still worse to strive with. For the rest, cheer up, my good Brother! No sorrowing that you can help; fix rather, as you often advise me, on the coming bright side of things: think and believe that you are under Higher Guidance, which will guide you well; that, thro' God's grace, we shall welcome you back again ere long, and not part so far any more, but one way or other set up our little tabernacles somewhere within sight and call of one another. Has not the wide Earth space in it for such a thing? It is one of my most favourite projects. There we can argue and assent, and sputter and coalesce, and quarrel and agree again, with better and better heart, and feel always that help is not far from us. Frischer Muth in frohem Sinn [Fresh courage in a cheerful spirit]! So shall the latter end of these men be better than the beginning.9

As for me and my moorland loneliness never let it settle on your heart. I feel as of old that the only true enemy I have to struggle with is the unreason within myself. If I have given s[uch] things harbour within me I must with pain cast them out again. Still, then, still Light will arise for my outward path too, were my inward light once clear again; and the world with all its tribulations lie under my feet. “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”:10 so said the wisest man, when what was his overcoming? Poverty, despight [sic], forsakenness, and the near prospect of an accursed Cross! “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world!” these words on the streets of Edinburgh last winter almost brought tears into my eyes. But on the whole quarrel not with my deliberate feeling that this Wilderness is no wholesome abode for me, that it is my duty to strive with all industry, energy and cheerful determination to change it for one less solitary. Consider also that I am far past the years for headlong changes; and will not rush out to the warfare without a plan and munitions of war. Nay for a time my best duty must be composure; the settling of innumerable things that are at sixes and sevens within myself. I am writing nothing yet, but am not altogether idle: depend upon it, I shall pass the winter here far more happily than you expect. So fear not for me, my dear Brother; continue to hope of me; to pray that the work given me to do may be done.

What you say of Irving and Badams is deeply interesting. See Badams again, and assure him with all emphasis of my unalterable interest. Tell him that while I have a home in this Earth the half of it must be his; that if he will come hither, he shall have a Laboratory-room, free air, friends' voices and looks, and none to make him afraid, and will rest himself and come to life again under my roof, as I have done under his. Urge all this on him, if you think such a journey feasible: as matters go, I really fear for his life. It is miserable that there should be no help! The man might be healed again; there is stuff in him to make twenty men. As for Irving his case seems but a shade less tragical: if Death is threatening the one, Insanity is hovering at small distance from the other. God avert it! but what can man do? A total change of place and companionship; twelve months of some foreign Country, where he could not preach for want of a language: this has long seemed the only appliance; but this till the Newman-Street bubble have burst he will not have recourse to. Say that I feel the friendliest sympathy in his fortunes, and cannot cease to feel with a friend's heart towards him while I have a heart.

This day week then I suppose we must fancy you on the way to Dover. You will write to some of us, to our Mother or to me before then; but you will be over the Channel before I can hear. So my next Letter may probabliest be from Paris. Write whenever my good genius moves you, when there is a moment's leisure, or your heart has anything it longs to utter. Jane continues no worse, slowly improving I rather think; she sends you her sisterly good wishes, and says you promised to write to her. I myself have taken two more of your Pills, and intend to get me a dozen of them; one in the week must suffice: I adhere to the breadless tea, but am in danger of enlarging the quantity. Turn now to the margins; which I will not leave empty, tho' there is little more to be said[.]

By all means make Fraser pay you the £10: too much is better than too little; and it is safer in your hands than in his; neither is there any the smallest difficulty in settling about it here, the instant one needs it, or before that.— I wish I could write again before you leave Britain; but it will not do. Appoint me your Poste restante, and I will do my best to meet you. If you write to my Mother, her Letter could be here on the Wednesday after she gets it: this you have perhaps considered; but it will be too late before you get this. Order, yourself; I will conform.—

Some other little notices remain: Send me Badams' Address. Tell Mill to come if he can, that is, should you see him again. Give my kind respects to W. Hamilton; also to his Wife—who should have been first mentioned. Probably you did not see Allan Cunningham; or Holcroft?—

——God guide and keep you, dear Brother! Amen!

T. Carlyle

My Edinburgh Namesake11 is preaching on the streets there: I fear the poor young man will not be long out of Bedlam. Sad is the case!

One Major Irving of Gribton12 came here the other day, and took the shooting of Puttoch for £5 rent (of his own fixing), and even insisted on paying the notes down on the spot! I gave them to the Dame for pin money civil services: the first help this place ever brought us.

You will beware of that Cholera, wherever it approaches you, not fear it.

Now for Mother's Letter as inclosure to yours. Nancy13 goes with the Gig tommorow. Candle light is come. A Dieu!——

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