August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO MARGARET WELSH ; 19 November 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421119-TC-MW-01; CL 15: 196-197


Chelsea, 19 Novr, 1842—

Dear Mrs Welsh,

Since writing to you, I have called on Mr Elliot; and spoken with him about New South Wales and your Son. I learn that Sir George Gipps,1 the Governor of New S. Wales, has constantly in his employment, a Body of Surveyors and Engineers, having naturally much employment for them there. That he is a personal friend of Mr Elliot's, who knew him in Canada where they were together.2 That he is a brave man; decidedly eager to find and promote men of real talent; decidedly averse to have anything to do with mere blockheads and idle bunglers, by whatever interest supported,—on which ground he has got the reputation of a “hard man” from certain parties; and, I hope, deserved it! Mr Elliot said, “I cannot of course promise that he will get the young man a situation; he must be the judge of that himself; but if he find him really able and worthy,—I think I can assure you my Letter will be attended to.” Nothing more could be said. In short, it appears to me, if your son were there on the ground with a good faculty in his head, he would stand a very fair chance of an appointment;—and that there only, in all the British Colonies, is there a good chance for him, so far as the Government appointments go. At the time of writing, I was not aware that the N. S. Wales Governor had himself Surveyors; and it seemed, as throwing a new light on the outlooks of the thing, worth writing of to you.

It seems you can by no method find access to any Practice of Surveying and Engineering. This is very grievous: if this is irremediable,—why, this too must be submitted to; but we ought to ascertain well first whether it is wholly so or not. I should conceive that, by possibility or even likelihood, your son would find employment in N. S. Wales, even as he is, and gradually learn his business there,—tho' of course this would be a far inferior start for him. If he persist in the project, I advise that new efforts be made for a little practical apprenticeship.

Meanwhile we may remark, nothing is running away with him, or with his prospects; he seems very reasonably employed at present. Let him gather a few good Books on his Science and read them. Does he know French well? Does he know German?— Professor Forbes,3 one would hope, might be able to assist him in finding some Teaching Engineer,—by and by.

As to Observatories I rather think they are few in number in these Islands of ours; the subaltern places in them very ill-paid, the chief places very difficult to get. I should say engineering in the Colonies was a much likelier life; more fruitful in every way for a man of head and heart.

This is all I had to write at present; you need not trouble yourself with answering me,—till some new fact rise, or you feel otherwise disposed to write.

I must again bid you be under no apprehension about this young Cousin of ours. I think, if he live, he will be a brave man yet, and his poverty will teach him many things, and be in all ways a disguised blessing to him. Even so!—

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle