The Collected Letters, Volume 11


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 13 March 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390313-TC-AC-01; CL 11: 51-55


Chelsea, 14th [13] March, 1839—

My dear Alick,

The Letter from Jack was out of my hand to be franked, but not gone out of London, when yours and our Mother's1 arrived here greatly to my satisfaction by the evening Mail,—for we have two Mails daily from the North now, thanks to the railway. I hope my Mother's cold is not aggravated by this frightful weather we have had; I am sorry she had such a thing for such a time. Encourage her to be careful; thanks for getting the ale; I hope you will not let her want for that, so long as she likes it at all. I must also bid you congratulate Jenny, and offer my respects to the young John A. Carlyle! Good speed to them all, poor creatures.— You do not tell me anything about your meal speculations, or whether you have had any such this winter. I desire to know all that you are busy with, and your outlooks whatsoever they are.2

In consequence of what you said, I have applied to Mr Elliot (that is his name) the Government Agent, on the Australia business for the Eaglesfield Emigrant.3 That small Note for George Elliott with the Printed Paper will show him what the answer was. For your own perusal I send you the original itself; which you need not shew to Geordie except need be: but it will enable you to instruct him if he is still dark about anything. A Letter will be written to him, from Greennock [sic: Greenock] probably (if “Eaglesfield” is not his address still, he must mention it to the Postmaster); he will likely get a free passage (which is a very desirable advantage every way), but must not make himself sure of one till he see.— I think Australia will do very well for Elliott and that he has every chance to better his situation by going thither. It seems a good scheme for him. But it is of no service to incur the responsibility of advising him to go; let him take his own judgement as the adventure is his own. I have accordingly written to him in a cautious strain; as the “Agent General” prescribes to me.4 Your task in it is merely to convey the Note and the Printed Paper to Geordie without delay, and give him afterwards any interpretation and explanation you can which he may heed, if he need any.

This Mr Frederick Elliot is a relation of the Earl of Minto's,5 a very clever and friendly young man, whom I have known something of for a good many years. He is one of my Lecture people, and likes me very well. The “creation” he talks of in his postscript is a grand musical performance, which I am to be at on Friday night; the Wilsons had got tickets for Jane and me both, but Jane declines, on account of the hot crowd and the cold weather. I was there once already: above 3,000 people, and some 500 musical performers!6 You never heard anywhere such a tempest of music. I do not count on going a third time.

Tonight I am to be at Leigh Hunt's hearing him read a new Play to certain private friends. He has read it often, poor fellow; but could never get it acted yet, and has had endless trouble with it.7 He is in a very poor way; living, I believe, on some allowance weekly which certain benevolent persons have subscribed to afford him. He has only been once here, these ten months;8 he has a kind of mixed affection and terror for me, and keeps rather out of my way; a plan I too think good. Nothing can exceed the improvident wastefulness of his poor household and self, except their misery. I can do them no good, and get no good of them.

I wrote to Jack on Monday; he must have got your Letter a fortnight ago, very soon after he wrote to me.9 He speaks of writing again soon by some Ambassador's conveyance; I will endeavour to forward the Letter without losing time. We have great cause to be thankful for Jack's sake, I think: he seems to be in a good position; comfortable, successful, and with the best outlook he could expect in that department.— My good Mother asks me whether I am not coming to Annandale this summer. I cannot answer yet; I only feel that I will not spend the hot weather here; that I do design to have my fill of green country and fresh air somewhere: but all is indeterminate beyond that; and till the Lectures &c are over, nothing can be determined. I sometimes think I ought to run over to Switzerland for a while; and indeed Jack and I had a kind of project for meeting there: but that again depends, even on his side, on his Duke's motions: on the whole nothing can be settled about it. I still have thoughts of getting a horse; the rather now as the weather seems to promise mending. Nothing can yet be decided as to the arrangement of the Lectures, or what subject they are to be on; tho' I am studying at that most of all in these days.10 You will hear by and by, I trust, that it is all going right.— Cavaignac tells me they are for translating our Revolution Book into French: it will make strange French, I trow!11 Yesterday a little acquaintance of mine12 called to deliver the thanks &c for writing such a w[ork o]n the part of one Count d'Orsay (a kind of French-Englishman[, or] English-Frenchman, whose name you sometimes see in Newspapers), the handsomest m[an] and chief Dandy of London or Europe;13 who has read me with great &c &c! Certainly no mortal ever had such a set of admirers as I have: the whole Nondescripts of the civilized world; Jesuits, Swedenborgians, Quakeresses, Dandies;—to which if we could only add that Bookseller Fraser had come down handsomely with ready-cash!

I must end my dear Brother, as I began: with thanks for your Letter, with prayer for another soon. You must not be discouraged in your business, you must not lose temper! Try it out to the uttermost, and see what it will do. This seems a terrible year, especially in that quarter of the world: other years will not be altogether so bad; and a man of quiet understanding always finds that something can be done, and made out, in all places. Tell me more minutely how you manage; what profits the last year seems to have yielded clear; how you spend your odd time (if you have any), what the bairns are doing; and all about it. And keep up your heart, my Boy; and always remember me. Your affectionate Brother

T. Carlyle