TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 2 October 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18391002-TC-JAC-01; CL 11: 196-200
TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE
Chelsea, 2nd October, 1839—
My dear Brother,
Your pleasant and welcome Letter came, along with one of Stewart's, not many nights ago. Stewart reported progress about Puttoch; he had had an “Inquirer,” he did not know whom; thought the thing might sell for about £6,500 or so;1 requested instructions from me; above all things, requested to have the title deeds forwarded to Adamson2 of Dumfries. I answered by return of post, that it was all right, that we would wait till he had to his own satisfaction ascertained the impossibility or due unlikelihood of getting £6,500 (as there was no haste, as his estimate was deliberate), and then we would cheerfully take 6000 guineas, which he seemed to have some notion might be a fair price too if we could get it at once. On the whole I endeavoured, as before, to lay it altogether under his management; conceiving that it was safer so than in any other way I could appoint for it. I also wrote by the same post to Robert Welsh;3 having mentioned to Stewart that I would; the title-deeds, or something to the same effect if they be not written out yet, will as I hope get into Adamson's hands straightway, or perhaps are already there. Finally I sent a copy of the F. Revn to Stewart, by Edinburgh and Lockerby.4 I sent another to Grahame of Burnswark,—poor Grahame: it was to be forwarded by Coach to Ecclefechan, where I hope in these days it has arrived. Stewart said, rather in the lamenting way, you had never looked near him more. Ben and you might take a bright day, and drive thither. He is a good little fellow, Stewart, I think; and decidedly clever in his way. Your sketches of Puttoch, of Glen &c were very interesting. What a change there too; nothing but changes; one's life is change! Glen I doubt will never get better; however, all things ought to be tried with him. Your notions about him seem to agree with his Brother's on that side.5 What a cub is Menzies! Wrapt so joyfully in his Hoddam stipend, in a coat of oily health, glad pepticity, potatoe-culture and limited self-sufficement: there let him rest, and bless Heaven.6 I rejoice not a little that you have got a settlement effected with Alick for my Mother, and have it now all clear for a fresh score. “Short accounts, long friends,” the Proverb says. She is a methodic person, and does not like entanglements. Alick does not like such either; but he has “an offputting way”! I think it would answer well if they made an arrangement, that is if he made a determination, to settle regularly at some appointed day twice a year: to start next Whitsunday, as Martinmas for this year is so close at hand? You should also settle with Alick, I think, and put the matter down in some clear shape in black-on-white. Or have you already done that?7 Keeping a tangled account is like wearing a tattered coat; unpleasant for the moment, and has an ill effect for the future: better mend your coat, and go about with a reputable feeling. I rejoice to hear that the shop prospers. It is one of my most earnest prayers that poor Alick's heart too could get into a state of clearness, of manful patience, quiet endeavour; this I should reckon prosperity, be the money result what it might. Ah me, poor fellow, he has had a tough fight, many, many a vexation; and feels as if he had not conquered, as if he were himself conquered after all! But it is not so; no, I will never cease hoping that so brave a man will take the attitude of a brave man; that when affliction press upon him he will learn to shut his lips, and think what is wrong in himself, what is curable in himself;—in a word, that he will renounce that “refuge of lies” altogether, and fly far from it as from the clearest revelation of the Infernal Pit manifested to men in these days of ours!—
My own history since I wrote to you has not been momentous. I have worked daily at Meister; only got the Appr finished the day before yesterday. The printers go briskly on and comfortably. The Travels will cost me no trouble at all; the translation is as good as I can make it: a plan I had, to intercalate from the Letzter-Hand edition of that work as much as would make a volume equal to the half of the Apprenticeship, proves, now when I look at it practically, impracticable without enormous waste of labour for no certain result: so I shall intercalate nothing, change nothing; the final edition seems to me better only as there is more of it; longer, not completer, nay hardly so complete.8 The Miscellanies, Fraser says, sell very beautifully; nearly the half of them is already gone: à la bonne heure [well and good]! I have given away all my copies now; several friends I silently bid wait for a copy of the British edition, which cannot, one would think, fail to be set forth some time or other.9 The two volumes making up my Mother's set were despatched by M'Kie's Parcel to Dumfries and James Aitken's care on Saturday last; pray look after them: there was a Fraser's Magn too with the Article on the vengeur; that had not my Mother's name, but was intended for her. By the same conveyance too I despatched a copy of Sterling's article on me; that is to say by Simpkin & Marshall's monthly parcel to M'Kie; for it was not tied up along with the others, but separ[ate,] not having come to hand till after Fraser had sent the others off. It was not a No of the Review, but a separate copy of the Article, which Mill gave me; the review was not to be out till next day, too late, I feared, for Simpkin & M'Kie.10 It far excels all articles ever written on me that of Sterling's; for half a day or more it flung my nerves abreed[abroad]11 more than I wanted or wished,—a most enormous laudation and exaggeration; then I thought: Was thut's [What does it signify]?12 If it make the things sell, and bring cash, it will be good; not otherwise; the rest is not good, but a mixture of good and evil, Mother!13— Sterling is translating Dichtung u. Wahrheit for Blackwood;14 flying away now high now low, as his way is. Mill, whom I called for when in the City seeking my Dumfries money, did not look any better, felt little or no better (he said), but was able to go on without much impediment. His review, he hinted, was to cease probably, before long: not paying, no prospect &c. The Bullers have left their fine town-house; taken some residence about Leatherhead: a bad symptom for Radicalism, as Mrs Buller reads it! Anthony Sterling sailed by the last Steamer from Liverpool: the old Stimabile comes whirling down here, takes Jane often, Jane and me sometimes, out to dine; one day to Greenwich and the Park there: pretty enough. Jane bids me salute you all with her best affection, and say that she is wonderfully stout ever since her return, and wishes every one of you had made as much improvement. By the bye, what is becoming of Austin and his business?15 How is Jamie with his harvest? The weather has been decidedly drier for above a week now; I trust Annandale and Scotsbrig share in it. Yesterday I went to seek home my horse: the people were making a fine second-crop of hay; I saw a man and woman sowing wheat, he with two long dibbles, she with a small wooden box and her fingers, hitching after him! I had four miles to walk af[ter] the railway at Watford; part of it thro' an oak wood with hazel bushes where the people were busy nutting. It, and the ride home generally were very interesting to me. My horse is in good order; I was obliged to go and get her, partly out of mense [propriety], partly that I really did want riding again. You shall have a trot if you like when you come. But when are you coming? London gets fuller and fuller now, tho' the quality are still all far from us. Your room in the front here with French bed and gay hangings, if you will have that room, or your old room if you will not, is standing ready for you here. Lady Clare's Parcel is come from Fraser's: a rather bulky square shallow thing; probably a writing apparatus of Russian leather.16 I heard no more of her; I got your Letter franked by a man whom I met on the Strand; Sterling having pleaded total inability, the Carlton17 all empty. No franks today;—and surely this scrawl is as little worth paying for as the most! My dear Mother wanted to hear of me again, I myself wanted to write. How is she? Ah me, I have nothing to say that will express the tenth of what I feel: I shall say nothing: God be ever with her!
I thought I had told you all my feats, and one of the greatest, getting that tooth wrenched out of me, is still to tell! Marshall18 did for it three days ago; it went on, gnaw-gnawing, so we rooted it out,—one of the ugliest sensations I ever had! It is not a sharp cleanly agony, like lightning, as I had fancied it; no, it is rather the transcendency of the Brutal, the Savage. My gum does well enough, and I can drink my tea hot again.— I should have said also that a man wrote to Mill from Glasgow, one Profr Nichol an astronomical character, ‘an admirer of mine,’ counseling me to become a candidate for the Moral Philosophy Professorship now fallen vacant there, worth £700 a year. I answered, if they were to offer it me, with all reasonable immunities, I would take 24 hours to consider of it; but as a contingent thing it was already decided, and I no candidate.19 £700 a year is good, but God be thanked I have lived till I am growing old without all that, and have made out for myself a result worth all the Professorships in Scotland— independent of them all. Grumph! as Cavaignac would say.— Our Garden is cleared up, many things rooted up, walks sanded, the greater part of the space laid out in grass. Do not forget the reap-hook, tell them!
Jamie will send us the oatmeal the first he has that pleases him: eight stone, Jane says. The butter will not be forgotten; nor the saddle. The sooner all were here, the better.— Did you ever say more to Jean about the ailment in her arm? Pray attend to it; she is very anxious about it.
I said one day I would buy my Mother a nail-brush! You will do me a real favour by laying out a shilling for that end; I never again was near where they were sold, or forgot when I was. Hinchliffe's at Dumfries;20 if you are ever there, do think of it. I said, and did not perform. Write soon; say when you are coming: come with a plan, if possible, and we will help you faithfully to execute it.— Finis!
By the bye, if you had any room you might bring all the remaining Tobacco that Sandy21 has too; I shall want it all: but do not put yourself about.
I have room for no more. My blessings with you all now and ever!