October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 21 September 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340921-TC-JAC-01; CL 7:301-309.


Chelsea, London, 21st Septr 1834—

My Dear Brother,

We have had your Letter of the 26th August rather more than a week; but I would not answer till I could tell you that the money matter alluded to in it was settled:1 at any rate a prior Letter of mine (I have forgotten of what date) must before now be in your hands, and keep your anxieties from getting excessive. One good if no other your return to Rome will do us: allow our Correspondence to proceed in the regular take-and-give fashion, and relieve us from the necessity of overlapping.— The day after your Letter came, which had been rather eagerly looked for, there arrived a “Threepenny” with one from certain Bankers in Lombard Street, announcing, as you indicated, that £130 lay in their hands for me, from Lady Clare and you. I walked off accordingly next day; got the money from a discreet oldish man in a brown scratchwig, and directions from him how I was farther to proceed in what I intended. I crossed to Lothbury2 with the bank-notes in my pocket; paid them in to the Commercial Bank Correspondent with proper specifications; and that same night wrote off to our Mother (who is in Dumfries these late weeks) to call at the Dumfries Office, receive the cash, take a Deposit Receipt for it in your name, with the interest payable to her (exactly as the last was managed); and finally send me a token in the Courier Newspaper, that it had all happened as I projected, and was rightly done. The token arrived yesterday; and tonight I am writing. No doubt you approve of my procedure? There was nothing to be made of the money here, and no use for it at present: it will buy our good Mother a gown before the time of need come; and will also lie safer than with me.— In the City that day I met with Mr Martin of Kirkcaldy; visiting with his wife at Hamilton's3 this Autumn: Hamilton was out for the moment; and Martin seeming to feel a more stinted kind of joy than I did at meeting, we did not let the interview last. In my perambulations too I had come upon a strange Anarchy of a place: the Stock Exchange.4 About a hundred men were jumping and jigging about in a dingy contracted apartment, and yelping out all manner of sounds, which seemed to be Auctioneer-offers, not without much laughter and other miscellaneous tumult: I thought of the words “Trade's contentious Hell,”5 but had no room for reflexions; a red-necked official coming up with the assurance that this place was “private Sir,” I departed with a “thousand pardons,” and satisfaction that I had seen the Domdaniel.6 These were my discoveries in the City.

Your kind Letter, my dear Jack, was read over with a feeling such as it merited: it went nearer my heart than anything addressed to me for long: I am not sure that there were not tears in the business, but they were not sad ones. Your offers and purposes are worthy of a Brother, and I were but unworthy if I met them in any mean spirit: I believe there is no other man living from whom such offers as yours were other to me than a pleasant sound which I must disregard; but it is not so with these; for I actually can (without damage to any good feeling in me), and will, if need be, make use of them: We will, as you say, stand by one another; and so each of us, were all other men arrayed against us, have one Friend. Well that it is so! Wohl ihm dem die Geburt den Bruder gab [Blessed is he whom birth gave a brother]!7 I will not speak any more about this; but keep it laid up in my mind as a thing to act by. I feel, as I once said, double-strong in the possession of my poor Doil: and so I suppose we shall quarrel many times yet, and instantly agree again, and argue and sympathize, and, on the whole, stand by one another thro' good and evil, and turn two fronts to the world, while we are both spared in it. Amen! There are many men wallowing in riches, splendent in dignities who have no such possession as this. Let us be thankful for it, and approve ourselves worthy of it.8

This small hand (and baddish pen) grievously cramps me; but my Paper is small for the distance!— Before entering on our London affairs, I must bring up the Annandale news; or rather Dumfriesshire ones, for we are not all in Annandale now. Some four weeks ago or more, our Mother went to Dumfries, to be near Jean on a certain interesting occasion; which, I think, has not yet arrived: I get a hieroglyphic notice weekly that they are all well; one week lately that there was a “Letter from the Doctor.” Nay, on the 16th August, there was a Letter in my Mother's own hand, which gratified me extremely: it is short, and in the heart of one from Jean; I think I will copy it for you: “Dear Son— After long and regretted silence, I may thank you for your kind attention. You ask how we go on at Scotsbrig: I am happy to say we do very well; they are very kind to me, and Jamie rejoices to see us agree so well. My health is better than when you saw me last. We have shifted the large bed, and dyed the curtains red; they are also up. We are putting a window in the little bedroom where I stay. Be easy in your mind as to me. Commit me to the care of the Great Shepherd, who careth for all that trust in him. May he enable us all to cast all our cares on him alone for time and for eternity, and seek his direction in all our undertakings. If so, I hope well of your french revolution [sic] and all other matters. May we therefore endeavour thro' his strength alone to act.— Peter Austin was in since I began to write: poor Glen is no otherwise. Peter has been down with bark, the last of it but one load: the wood is all gone long ago, as you will have heard, without sending for the neighbours” (alluding to Peter's greed about the Craigenputtoch wood-weedings). “What is Jane doing? I think she promised to write me. I think I see her on the deck waving her hand. I confess I was afraid. What reason of thankfulness have we that you got thro' all so well! Give my best love to John when you write to him: he says much about faith; tell him to seek diligently after the author and finisher of it; and may we all have that faith that worketh by love and purifies the heart. Let us pray for each other; and tho' separated for a time let us try to meet at God's throne of grace, where we are all welcome with our most enlarged petitions. I had a thousand such things to say; but let us both hope and quietly wait. I had a Letter from Mr Church, Kirkchrist, with the Magazines with many thanks: I was to tell the Dr but this you will do for me. You will see by Jean's I came direct from Mary's, and left them well. Pardon mistakes.— Harry is plump and does well.— ‘Nothing more but half a drop.’9— Your affectionate Mother.”— This is the whole Letter; written in a cramp but distinct hand, and with hardly any other difference than that of certain punctuations. The little piece, in its humble clearness, its genuine cheerful faith, and affection and simplicity will speak more to you than some volumes. May God long preserve to us such a Mother; and make her declining days bright with a light which passeth not away!— There have been besides this two Letters from Grahame of Burnswark (one of them about Edward Irving); but no specialty of news; except this, That after the finest summer and growth of crops, they are getting the worst harvest (for heat and wet) within man's memory. Poor M'Diarmid is eloquent on it every week; but “last Thursday,” there had been a favourable change:10 our weather here has been of the same damp mooth [muggy] (müde) [weary]11 kind, tho' with less fall of rain, and changed too on that same day,—that is, ten days ago now. I hope it is already much better-looking with their harvest there; I feel often what a dispiriting time they have of it. I wrote to Alick (as I perhaps told you); but have no answer yet, and know not whether his farm project is settled, or how. Old Ned Wield is dead at Ecclefechan (he was with my Father at Scotsbrig, the last day I saw either of them); also Irving the Schoolmaster (as I believe I did mention): and now the other day, our Newspapers announce that Blackwood the Bookseller in Edinr is gone;12 alas poor Bailie! He was the likest man to my notion of Cagliostro, and I remember helped me to a feature or two.— There is nothing else from Scotland worth dwelling on.

As to London and us there has little altered since I wrote. Our house is quiet, clean (above all, without bugs!) and offers us a friendly shelter. We have got a Sinumbra Lamp too; opposite which, in the clearest glow, I am now writing; Jane reading at the other end of the table, and Goethe's Munich Picture looking down on us, over the China-jars &c, from above the mantel-piece; and a stillness (for it is Sunday night) equal to that of Puttoch. So many people are out of town at present, we are more solitary than usual; have not above a couple of visitors in the week: Hunt himself has ceased to drop in, and only comes when sent for; which last arrangement is perhaps an improvement. On the whole, however, I am still too solitary; the companions I have are moreover wholly too unpractical, and I feel that they teach me almost nothing: this evil, were people back again, I shall earnestly endeavour to mend. The Bedenklichste [gravest thing] remains ever that I have not yet earned sixpence since I came hither; and see not that I am advancing towards such a thing: however, I do not “tine [lose] heart”; indeed, that money consideration gives me wonderfully little sorrow: we can hold out a long time yet. It is very true also what you say that soliciting among the Bibliopoles were the worst policy. Indeed, I have no deeper wish than that bread for me, of the brownest sort, were providable elsewhere than with them. We shall not cease to try. One comfortable thing is the constant conviction I have that here or nowhere is the place for me: I must swim or sink here. Withal too I feel the influences of the place on me; rebuking much in my late ways of writing and speech; within my own heart I am led to overhaul many things, and alter or mourn for them: I might say generally that I am leading a rather painful but not unprofitable life. At spes infracta [But hope unbroken]! I look up to the everlasting sky, and with the azure Infinitude all round me cannot think that I was made in vain. These things, however, I do not well to speak of yet, or perhaps at all. The best news is that I have actually begun that French Revolution; and after two weeks of blotching and bloring [blurring] have produced—two clean pages! Ach Gott! But my hand is out; and I am altering my style too, and troubled about many things; bilious too in these smothering windless days. It shall be such a Book! Quite an Epic Poem of the Revolution: an Apotheosis of Sansculottism! Seriously, when in good spirits, I feel as if there were the matter of a very considerable Work within me; but the task of shaping and uttering it will be frightful. Here, as in so many other respects, I am alone: without models, without limits (this is a great want); and must—just do the best I can. There is no danger of my over-working myself, as you apprehend; but rather of the reverse. Mill votes strongly for having the Diamond Necklace published as a Book; and half-jestingly even offered to print it at his own expense, that he might have the pleasure of reviewing it. This I could not consent to; but have again given Fraser the Book, who is actually reading it with intent to report on it: I expect little from publishing it, but wish it were off my hands.— — But the Supper is come (good Annandale porridge); and Jane insists that it is bedtime. The Letter I believe cannot go till Tuesday; so I may finish it tomorrow night. We are rather weary: I was at the Museum yesterday; and today we walked together to Parson's Green (close by Fulham). Good Night, dear Brother!

Monday Night, 22nd.— I have done a very little at my Book-scribblement, and now the night is again come, and I can finish out my say to you. In the course of the day a Letter has arrived from James Aitken, which brings us the good news that Jean has been happily delivered of a Boy, which with the mother is doing well. Poor Jean adds a line in her own hand (unsteadily written) that she is “quite strong today”; that they are to call the child Sandy. Our Mother was to have filled half the sheet; but Jamie had taken her to the Courthouse where the Circuit Judges were sitting; and she was too deeply interested in the procedure to quit, even for such a purpose, “till she saw what became of the poor creature.”13 She and all the rest were well; Alick and Jamie well on with harvest, and the weather good since eight days. Wholly news we should be thankful for.— — To proceed now with my own London affairs. I said, we were rather solitary; yet except for practical purposes, we are not too solitary. People enough come about us, did they bring much; if more of the like sort came, we might perhaps complain of time being wasted. Mill is ever a most theoretical man; yet well affected in a high degree; he is for the present out of town. Allan Cunningham we see pretty often; he is fully as good as when you knew him; a man that would be better if he saw rightly how. We have also fallen in with Rennie the Sculptor (an old friend of Jane's) and all his set; we dined last week with Captn Manderson (of the Bridgewater:14 do you remember?) married to a Sister of his. Rennie is rather a sharp fellow, wholly without poetic or plastic genius; full of Rome (whither by the way he holds out hope of getting you a Teufelsdrockh conveyed soon); Manderston [sic] is a good solid Sailor: the rest is all gigmanitas gigmanitatum [of shallow respectability shallowly respectable], of no value whatever. Edward Irving I have actually seen twice; the last time he even came down hither, in one of his rides. Poor Fellow! With him es nicht gar misslich aus [it is not at all promising]: his body and mind seem much broken; yet if he could but live, we rather fancied he might shake off the Tongue-work. I earnestly indeed solemnly counselled him to retire and rest himself; which I am very glad to learn he has since done: Martin represented him as “with a Clergyman in in [sic] Somersetshire,” and doing well. I partly design to get his address and write to him. The Pagoda in Newman St. goes on without him. My Lord Jeffrey, of whom we have heard nothing since May, sends indirectly inquiring our address: a sentimental Letter is to be anticipated; nothing more. I think kindly, gratefully of the man; but have nothing to say that would help him, wherein he could help me. The Austins are in Jersey; there is a Mrs Somerville here (in Chelsea) whom Mrs A. will introduce Jane to: a good woman, I believe. Oh the weary smallness of the Paper!— You seem to be in a confused state of movement at present; or rather I hope you have already got anchorage again. Shall you try to practice in Rome during winter? By all means, my dear Brother, if there be the slightest feasibility in it. Judge when you are there: and perhaps before that take some good moment and propose it to your Lady; considering how unoccupied you are, how isolated, and what you are looking forward to, she, as one would think, can hardly refuse. But you know the ground much better than I. The thing however that would give me most pleasure now about Rome were to hear that you actually had got begun in that way. Failing this, you have Books and a Pen; Senses and a Heart: struggle on till May, and then we shall resolve on something courageous, and manfully in concert with each other prosecute it. Courage! The Devil can get no more of man than was appointed him; we shall live yet and see good days.— One patient I will promise you in May: myself. I really imagine you might do me service; there is evidently but little wrong with me, yet that little sadly important; I think, the liver: at all events, if you will undertake, I will, and faithfully adhere to your guidance till we try. Is not that an increase of faith, if not in Doctorship, yet in the Doctor? My health is certainly nowise worse than it was; yet it still continues different; and in any free day, how light, joyful, skilful I am!— On the whole, dear Jack, I wish you were here; and yet perhaps May is the best, and soon enough: I shall have seen into several things before that.— Jane is well: she will write you a postscript about her attempted interview with Miss Morris. I have the margins left; but will here subscribe myself— Your Brother

T. Carlyle

Jane is not ready with her Postscript, and I cannot rightly wait. She went on Saturday last to Bayswater; did not see Miss Morris, but only Mrs Smalley;15 a Christian Gigwoman, who in measured style signified that the young lady was unwell, that “perhaps she might see her some other day.” To which a reply in like style being made (and Jane's card already in Miss M's hand), the interview terminated, the Chn:Gign:, much relaxed, attending her to the door, “as if by fascination.” It was Jane's theory that she had shocked them all by walking thither alone. If Miss M. see any prospect of doing good with us, she will call here; if not, we shall wish her well and love her in her own sphere. I fancy her as very lonely in the world, and necessarily much tied up by forms. For the rest, gigmanic Christianity is a thing I get little good of: such probably is that of Smalleydom, as indeed of Shovel-hat-dom at large.

[In JWC's hand:]

— My dear John There is mighty little left for me to say. Even the affair of Morris which was by rig[h]ts my own to make a kirk and mill of, he has compressed into a brief dry notice and so hindered me from making as I certainly might and should have done a highly interesting picture of it. Console toi! [Console yourself!] There is still place for my love and that after all is the one thing needful[.]

[In TC's hand again:]

I said something about Ben Nelson's eyes, on Irving's authority: I now find, it was all an error of his, and Ben quite as of old— Jock Thomson (once of Luce)16 and M'Queen (of Craigenputtoch)17 called here one day in a cab! They were for Barnet fair.

Looking lately into the North American Review, their first article was a critique on my Life of Schiller, reprinted at Boston! They did not seem to know my name. The article was of the frothy grandiloquent commendatory Style; good enough for so frothy a Work. How things are tumbled to and fro!

Did you get Graham's Letter? He writes to me in the most overflowing manner: really a most excellent man; with generous affection enough to cover far more faults than his. He was clear for my taking Irving to task, and even publishing about him! Did you ever see so small a hand? No more till tomorrow morning. I will try the Book a little[.]

I was on a Coroner's Inquest the other day as summoned juryman! It was very striking to me: “Oyez! oyez! oyez! ye good men of this County”! A poor lady had died in an omnibus: “visitation of God.”18

Tuesday morning.—I now read and go to my work: after dinner I can carry this to Knightsbridge or Charing-cross, and save time and twopence. Adieu, dear Brother! All blessings with you!

This Document
Right arrow Similar letters
Right arrow Alert me to new volumes
Right arrow Add to My Carlyle Folder
Right arrow Download to citation manager
Right arrow Purchase a volume of the print edition
Right arrowSubject terms: