October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 18 May 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340518-TC-JAC-01; CL 7:158-167.


4. Ampton Street, Gray's Inn Road, London, 18th May 1834—

My Dear Brother,

Doubtless you are thinking long to hear from me, as I have done these two weeks to write to you. I pitied but could not help you. I hope you yourself have Heiterkeit [cheerfulness], and do not torment your mind with vain fears on our account. Be of good cheer: all is well with us. Here also, at length, is another broad and long sheet of that “foreign Post” of theirs, with pen and ink, and the length of a whole still Sunday before me: to have a table that would stand on its feet were another completion of comfort; which, however, for the present, I must dispense with. My brave true-hearted Jack shall hear to all lengths how it goes with us.

Your last Letter but one arrived only a day after my last was despatched. The last was found lying at Dumfries now nearly a fortnight ago;1 and in the very best time; for our dear Mother was beginning to call exceedingly often at the Post-Office, and no reasoning could have saved her from considerable anxiety, had it lasted long. She had been at Craigenputtoch, for a “fortnight,” on her “last visit” there, I took her down on the Friday as far as Alick's, who would not let us go farther; then next day forward to Annan to shew her Mary who had actually removed thither into a temporary house a week before; from which, the same evening, up to Scotsbrig. Passing thro' Ecclefechan we “called,”2 as usual; but poor Postie had nothing for us. However, on the Monday following, as I returned thro' Dumfries, there lay, in very deed, the long, most kind, most brotherly Letter; which I could read to Jean on the spot, and send our Mother hint of by a Newspaper, with hope of seeing itself in the course of that week. Jean went on with me to Puttoch, and staid there talking and sewing shirts, till the Thursday when I was to bring her so far down on my road—to London. For you must know, our Holland-Street, and all other Austinian house-speculations had, after the most provoking vicissitudes of hope and even of assurance, come suddenly to nought; whereby, as Whitsunday was so near, it became for us self-evident that I must off in person to do the work, lest it altogether miswent for year and day. Poor Jane was to be left with the Furniture herself; Alick undertook to come for a week and take the burden off her, which I believe he is now at Cra[i]genputtoch struggling with his best effort to do. And so I, wetted with poor Mrs Welsh's tears (whom Jane seemed anxious to see done with her visit, as she then nearly was), lumbered off in my Clatch, in rainy weather, to seek new habitations. Alas, five minutes after arriving here, I found that my whole hurry had been superfluous; that Whitsunday is no day at all in London, or this very Sunday; and houses are to be had at any season, and most plentifully of all some two weeks hence! However, intrinsically there is little ill done: I shall have a House ready, I hope, for the poor tired Wife, and as our Goods having a quick path all marked out for them will not linger, we shall all the sooner have it over. Let me first, meanwhile, wind up Scottish matters; then tell you, as far as I can, what London has brought forth.

With regard to our dear Mother, I bid you comfort yourself with the assurance, then, that she is really moderately well; better I can say than you are likely to fancy her. She has discontinued the Pills; finds, for many months, that she can do without them. She adjusts herself with the old heroism to new circumstances; agrees that I must come hither, parts from me with the stillest face, more touching than if it had been all beteared. I said to Alick, as we drove up the Purdamstown brae that morning that I thought if I had had all the Mothers I ever saw to choose from I would have chosen my own. She is to have Harry, and can ride very well on him; will go down a while to seabathing at Mary's; up to Dumfries; to Catlinns; and spend the summer tolerably enough. For winter I left her the task of spinning me a plaid dressing-gown, with which if she get too soon done, she may spin another for you. She has Books; above all, her Book: she trusts in God, and “shall not be put to shame.”3 I am to write once in the three weeks; you also are pressingly charged to keep writing; your Letters to me I shall get forwarded in Franks. I told her, there would be railways too (which is a fact) which, in few years, would bring us to Liverpool in 10 hours.4 If I once again saw you safe here, in September come a year, we could come home together, and once again provide her with some happy days.— To shew you several things I will mention a fact: while at Craigenputtoch, I made her train me to two song-tunes, and we often sang them together, and tried them often again in coming down to Annandale; nay, one of them, I actually found myself humming with a strange cheerfully-pathetic feeling when I first came in sight (thro' that Arch on the road) of huge smoky Babylon: “For there's seven foresters in yon forest, and them I want to see, see, and them” &c!5 I wrote her a little Note yesterday, and told her this.— As for Jamie, you can fancy him providing for a love-marriage, which is to take place shortly. He is no ill-conditioned fellow; very far from it; and with a great natural talent, had he given it any culture. We will heartily wish him joy, and hope well of him.— Jean seems also to be doing very well, to be happy in Dumfries, interested in it, and able to give a good account of what she sees there. I think she loves her husband, and will help him to be an honest man, which, with very good faculty in all ways, he is truly anxious to be. She wept at parting, when I had eaten my last Dumfries meal with them: I bade them ever remember that it was but a short, short time we had to be tumbled about here, and that all Eternity depended on our way of spending that. And so I left poor Jean; guter Hoffnung [full of hope] (they say) in the German sense; and I with good hope of her in the universal sense.— My good Alick stood waiting for me at the end of Shillahill Bridge with his black mare, thinking my horse would be weak. It is one of those apparitions I shall never forget. He whirled me, like an arrow, direct down to Highland, Breconhill, Ecclefechan and Scotsbrig, thro' old scenes unvisited for years: we were within cry of Mainhill (for the new road now goes by the horse-loch almost); it stood there still, and we had never more aught to do with it. Alick still votes for Annan, and I fancy will probably accomplish it: he has gained hitherto at Catlinns; but has no assurance that in a wet year he will not greatly lose: the proprietors also will not afford him the palpably needfullest encouragement; he will do well to cast it from him.— At Annan, I told you, Mary already was: her husband has had constantly some work from the very first day, and shapes fairly for doing well enough. He is a blithe man, strong, steady. They remove to a house of Wull Brown's (£5 a year) at the Battery;6 are living at present up a little “wynd” [narrow lane], behind “Tom Wullieson's house,” directly beyond [Carlyle writes “eastward of” above “beyond”] the Commercial Bank, if you remember it. Poor Mary had her two children as clean as new shillings and the whole little housekin swept and cleared, and the neatest breakfast laid out for us all that morning I went off. It had been appointed so: I went in the “new Steamboat from Annan” (which is also to carry our Furniture); Alick and Jamie, with Ben Nelson &c were down with me at the shore; and before noon, at the waterfoot I had waved my hat to my two Brothers, and gone on my way.7— Of Jenny I think I told you all last time: I got her Chambers's two Volumes of Songs8 bound into one, for a most acceptable parting-gift, and so left my little “Prudence.”9 Your Iliad and Odyssey I also got bound then, and have appropriated them for the present.— Alas how my Paper wanes! I must merely huddle up the rest. Ben and Edward were both with me on board, and I read them your message there: to Edward10 I left Ludwig's Dictionary, Noehden and some German trashery; recommending him to Menzies11 the new Minister that is to be of Hoddam (for old Yorkstoun12 is dead; so is Gibson of Lochmaben, and various other clergy): the Nelsons are good men, and good friends of ours; would like exceedingly to hear from you, and even to write—but—! William Graham I had very shortly before seen: he is growing a large, grey, bushy very rustic-looking Carle [man]; with the same affectionate honestheartedness as ever: you would really do him a pleasure by writing, as I assured him he would you. Waugh has now whole clothes on his back, has quitted Marion,13 and got a bedroom of his own in Wellington Street, where he seems to be practicing, and writing some immortal Work or other on Medical Philosophy[.] He had shillings in his pocket (when I saw him, on my Mother's visit), and actually could, as he most heartily would, have given me a beef-steak to dine on with him. His age seemed renewed.14 And now enough of Annan.— In respect of Liverpool, I suppress all (much that in the way of civility interests yourself) except that George Johnstone, in his old place, is becoming decidedly and prosperously fixed into his character of Physician to the Poor; really a most helpful, clear, praiseworthy man; that Arbuckle in No 4. Oxford Street (which mark, for you might well write to him) has brass-plated himself “Surgeon,” and sees that sufficiency is in store for him, “without anxiety on that head”; for the rest, I found him greatly improved and polished, compacted into kind dignity; his sufferings, in a word, have rendered him devout, and lifted him above suffering; I predict nothing but good of him. He remembered, he said, with warm gratitude, you and me for the example we had shewn him.

With respect to London, where we are now arrived, I must spare you many details: understand in general that I walk myself daily into lameness and utter lassitude (taking all advantage of omnibii too) in search of houses, but still find none, or hardly any; [see] only that I shall find some. My present view is fixed on two points: one in Edwardes Square, a little quiet green pl[ace, fa]r west in Kensington; the second, which as yet I like distinctly better, a detached new-bu[ilt] Cottage in Glo'ster Terrace Brompton; built on the very model of Craigenputtoch, only wider, without adjoined kitchen [(the] servant's-room being kitchen), and lower in the upper story; a solid-looking clean-yellow house, in the middle of a gar[den] with an Omnibus road in front, and perhaps 1½ miles to Hyde Park: rent, I think, £40. That is my outlook tomorrow. B[a]yswater I like best of all, especially for the glorious Kensington Gardens; Chelsea is cheapest of all, but I like it not, and also shall be better not too near the Hunts, who overwhelm me with kindness, but will never do good with me. In Kensington or Brompton you are to figure me, then; certainly almost, in some western suburb: Bessy Barnet is warned to be here in 12 days, when our Goods arrive; Jane follows instantly, and so with good heart we begin the world. As you must write to me instantaneously, it will be better to direct to Fraser 215. Regent Street: but I expect to hear of you before that also, by Scotsbrig. Our Mother took lessons in writing from me; and really can write quite tolerably, tho' slowly. In point of employment here I have yet made no accurate calculations: Literature seems done, or nearly so; all enterprises languish[:] Tait has given up his Magazine (or joined it with a certain Johnstone's);15 Cochrane, who really proves no bad fellow, and received me very kindly, I suspect to be in lowest water for money, and not to occupy me mainly on that ground. Fraser's Magazine is here, and a lot of Books for you from Mrs Badams: but the man himself I have not seen. Nothing seems to thrive but Penny Journals: are we at the End, then? Meanwhile be gratified to know that these things and twenty times as many cannot dispirit me. I feel in general that I have wit enough in my head to live; and look upon many things with the cheerfullest “still defiance”16 I have known for long. A scoundrel, by God Almighty's grace, no man shall ever see me: the rest is leather and prunello [sic].17 I find friends too, kind friends; will survey my element, will understand it, then see whether I can swim there. Here is a professed Teacher, there are innumerable Ignorants: doubtless there is a way of bringing them together. Rejoice also that whether by such walking or by this humour I am in, or by what, my health feels especially good since I arrived. Who knows but I shall one day be healthy! So Courage! Andar con Dios [Go with God]!— And now, dear Jack, for a word or two of news; which detailed in full would cover several sheets. Mrs Badams, preparing to go to France to her Brother, found me out at Fraser's; left a most dolorous Note here; I went and saw her last night in Hanover Place Regent's Park: wan, like a wet April morn when I entered, soon brightening into light spirits; now as formerly a Fool. The Kennys18 with their clippings sitting there, alas, they seemed to me the sorry Farce that has wound up a dark Tragedy. Poor Badams was delirious some days before he died, and appears to have passed softly away. I think of yet going to see his grave. Tom Holcroft knows not that I am here, nor do I where he is; indeed I am straitened how to deal with him; he has need of me I think, yet might easily become a burden and injury: we shall watch.— One day as I hasten with Mrs Austin and “the celebrated Mrs Jamieson”19 (a wretchedish woman) thro' Kensington Gardens, seeking houses, a large figure starts from a seat and clutches my hand: it is Edward Irving! Good Edward, poor Edward, he looks ill, very ill; a pale yet flushed complexion, eyes with a dim glazy trouble in them: I was heartily affected. He is to be in Bayswater (after tomorrow) for some months, by the Doctor's (Darling's20) peremptory order: I could not see him last night in Newman Street, but only his unutterable Pagoda.21 To think that he should die of that cursed rubbis[h] is very painful [to] me. I will see him again.— Mill was sitting waiting one morning; has been here since, with a young mystic-radical: he look[s] if possible clearer and compacter than ever, appears to like me astonishingly. I saw the Noble Lady; heard the old jangled music-bells of No 25 playing to the old tune, for some minutes: Charles Montague and Wife and Child are forthwith to occupy these apartments (or others in a new house, hard by, the people are removing to); this seems a significant fact. No young Montague do I ever wish to see.— Charles Buller, most ready with his franks and his welcome, I find removed temporarily to Parlt Street with his father and mother; he is surgically and medically ill (of piles, I believe), but looks cheerful, and hopes to get off without an operation. Mrs Strachey was lodging just over the way: she gave me a most kind reception, invites me to tea for monday; looks pure and clear and much happier; is so far on her way to a new home “near Bristol.” She did write to Miss Morris22 (who never got the Letter?); she was much gratified to learn from me that probably Miss M. was even now near London, and might be searched out: perhaps I shall see that young schöne Seele [beautiful soul] with these eyes, and surely love her well.— Finally the Whigs are thought to be in danger23 (which, for my part, may become more dangerous); and Advocate Jeffrey has in these days retired to be a Scotch Judge. I have not seen him yet, tho' asked to do it; but shall, perhaps tomorrow. Why should I seem to the man to be what I am not, angry with him.— Alas, dear Brother, here is the end. Auf ewig [Eternally]!

T. C.

The £120 was all safe; I ordered it as you directed, and left the Document (marked accordingly) with my Mother, who declared again and again her “no need” of it.24 Pool25 also has been served.— I were inexcusable, my dear Jack, to forget again to say that your generous purposes in regard to that “lying money” were not to be baulked by my pettiness of mind. How were I worthy to give, if from the right man I knew not to receive? Far am I, my Boy, from refusing aid of yours (when it will not hurt yourself more); I am proud to reckon you a man adequate for a relation of that kind. Your money is already taken; and in these new circumstances will do me essential service. Be a good man, help me to be one; and we shall as you say never be divided. So let that be fixed.

I have said nothing of Italy and you: all of Britain and myself. So you would have it[.] Continue to send us all sorts of details of your still existence, which is nerving you for one day enacting one of another sort. I say Amen to all your convictions and aspirations: I know them; they are the beginning of Life, of what can be called Life. I cannot describe how much stronger I feel for having you: no longer a wild-aiming Youth, but a resolute decisively-endeavouring man. God keep you for me; and bring you safe back! Leb' wohl [Farewell]!26

The other margins tomorrow: it is now time for walking; weather bright.

Monday morning.—I walked yesternight (besides my midday walk) to Bayswater; had a long talk with the painful faithful, metallic fanatic, radical philosophic Austin; foun[d] there a Newspaper from Jane, which indicated that all was still well. I am for Brompton; shall perhaps see James Fraser as I pass. Weather fine[.]

I sleep less by fully an hour (all Spring) than I was wont: is this actually a sign of better health? 6½ hours, but very deep, is my utmost allowance at present. G. Johnstone syringed my ears, and the (new) humming is gone again.— Willm Fraser is said to be “ruined by cautionry,” and gone to Boulogne!

Heraud has published an “Epic”; liv[es] near in Burton Crescent, and delivers lectures! Ist und bleibt ein [Is and remains a] Dud?27

And so here ends, my dear Brother. Take my blessing again, be well, and write soon!

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