October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO WILLIAM GRAHAM; 5 August 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340805-TC-WG-01; CL 7:254-256.


5. Great Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London, / 5th August, 1834.

My Dear Friend,

It is a shame to send you this miserable scrap of Paper, after all my good purposes: but the Frank, already burdened with a Naples letter, will hold no more. It is better to accomplish never so little than to resolve on never so much: “Hell,” they say truly, “is paved with good resolutions.”1 Now, as often heretofore, you must take the will for the deed.

All the circumstances of our settlement and position here I suppose you to have learned from my Mother and Brothers: if not, question them and they will speak. We are got to a kind of calmness at length; I can begin to ask myself seriously: What then canst thou do? In the name of Heaven, bestir thyself and do it. Literature continues in the same mad state it has long been in; nevertheless even this mad state is the one allotted to us; now is the time, or else never: other alternative is none at all. I have as good as bargained with a Bookseller to have a volume ready in Spring; I am to call it “French Revolution,” and put my name to it. Pray that I may quit me like a true Scottish man, in this matter; for it is really important to me. I am already busy enough with it, for the labour is great. Such is my task; all else, as far as may be, I suffer to run by me, like the jingle of those chariot-wheels, which are to roll on without cooperation of mine; independent of me, as I of them. A singular rhapsody written long ago at Craigenputtock2 has at length worked itself out piecemeal thro' Fraser's Magazine: I hope to send it you stitched together and legible some six weeks hence: make of it what you can; at lowest, a friendly remembrance.3

The Henry4 that was yours stands in a conspicuous place among my Books; almost daily have I some kindly breath of reminiscence from you. Very sweet it is, out of this never-resting din, where the very country is a town, to think of your Burnswark home; of your emerald hillside, overspanned by azure skies, with its outlook of mountains and shining ocean-mirrors, with silence, and the visitation of the breezes! Alas, I know well, there too has labour and vexation of spirit found footing: “Black care,” as the old Roman says, “leaps up behind the horseman,”5 pursues the flying mast; you cannot ride from it or sail from it; there where it is and you are, you must meet it and do battle with it. Sharp, then! strike, and spare not! Let your voices too encourage one another.

I saw our worthy Edward twice, a good while ago; not since, tho' I have tried it, and it was his part to come and see me. They seem to have a kind of synagogue in Newman Street, and are a “self-contained house” in many senses. What is to become of it? one asks; but cannot answer. If Irving live, he will, as I still keep prophecying, kick it to the Devil (who is mostly the father of it), and, in new shape be himself again one day. But, alas, his life, so agitated and beaten on, is no sure possession; and that deepest tragedy too is among his possibilities, to sink choked into utter Darkness amid clouds of basest stupidity! God avert it. I often think I might do something for him, were we in free intercourse; but the “four-and-twenty elders” will it not, and must have their way.

My Paper is done, in spite of smallest writing. Take the will for the deed! If you will any day take a large sheet, and write me all manner of things (even about Scotsbrig I am in the dark), “Post-obit”6 will send it, and get my blessing for it. True is that word. Think of it, and act!— John says he wrote to you: did you receive? He continues well; has some hope to be back in May.

The lady straitly charges me to send her “best regards”: she is well. Remember me with kindest wishes to Mrs Howatson7 and Miss Grahame; also to your good friend Johnstone, who must like me, not shudder (or “scunner” [feel disgust]) at me.

I am ever, / Your's affectionately, /

T. Carlyle.

My grateful regards to the Grange Circle,8 if you be ever there.