January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 26 May 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430526-TC-AC-01; CL 16: 178-181


Chelsea, Friday Evg / 26 May, 1843—

My dear Brother,

Yesterday I had a Letter from the Doctor, who had seen you as he passed thro' Ecclefechan; you need not doubt but the news he gave me was interesting! You have now finished the Sale of your effects in Ecclefechan, this very day you must have been removing from your house, into some other temporary abode; and in a short time, it appears, you are to make a much farther removal, and try the new Country over the Sea. My dear Brother, it is a great and painful enterprise; but, I trust in Heaven, it may be a blessed one. My thoughts have been with you constantly in these days; ever and anon the image of poor Ecclefechan, and my good Brother closing his sorrowful battle there, has risen on me strangely thro' whatever I might be looking at here. Courage, my Brother! You will get thro' all these pains and confusions; you will cut your way, like a brave man, into new battleground, and rise into victory yet, if it please God! Few sights I have looked on have been painfuller to me than that of a man with your energies and qualities struggling in such a scene, under such galling impediments, as yours have long been. I have a clear hope that better times, and a more generous fight, are appointed for you in that new home. You will have no miserable Laird or other Fellow-mortal whatever, to ask leave of there; you will, at least, appeal direct to the Great Powers, and ask them where1 you deserve to prosper or not. It seems to me a most blessed change; worthy of being purchased at a very great cost of pain.

The report John gives us of your present mood of mind is very satisfactory. He rather complains that you have not yielded to his scheme of going out to Canada first, and looking at it: this surely was kindly intended on his part; but on the whole both Jane and I are of opinion that your own resolution, for your own behoof, is the wise one.2 It will be a confused forbidding aspect that the new country offers you; but under that first look, which you will not let dishearten you, there will lie a second look, there will lie all manner of possibilities, which to the brave man will become more and more productive. On the whole, is it not better that you buckle to it, as you mean to do, resolutely, with your whole heart, at once? “There is a puddle at every town-end,” says the Proverb:3 it is better to get thro’ that, perhaps, without looking at it farther. I anticipate great things for you in that new way of life;—first of all far better health than you have had lately; healthy honest field-work, far better for the body; and then still more, the awakening of a generous manful hope in your heart and mind, such as has long been absent in these late sorrowful times.

Your parting with us all will be painful; yes, dear Brother, it will be a cruel sorrow; but on the whole this too must be borne. Nay you are not to think it a final leave you are taking of any of us: Canada, by Steam and other means, is coming daily closer to Britain; for my share, I see not but it is likelier the whole of them may have to go out to you if times do not mend. There is positively no existence for an industrious tiller of the soil in this country in our day; and the view I have of the days that are coming often makes me shudder! To struggle out one's own life in such a Country is dreary; but to leave a quantity of children in such a scene, which grows yearly more unmanageable, is frightful. No; rather consider yourself as the harbinger and pioneer of the others, than as one cut off from them: the blessing of God does rest upon the brave man, who with a sincere wise heart goes forth in the name of God.

I remember well, at this moment, the last look I got of Jamie and you, as I went off in the Steamer towards this place some eight years ago.4 I felt that I was gone from you; but that I had been bound and compelled to go;—that, in the name of Heaven, I must now do and struggle! In the midst of pain, a better feeling rises: it is good for a man that he be cast, from time to time, forth from his old refuges, and made to try what his relation with the great seen and unseen Realities is!— I hope yet to see you in Canada some day; and sit by your hearth on ground that belongs to yourself and the Maker alone!—

Jack talks of £300 as a sum that you would have a fair chance with, were it lying ready for you on your landing on the other side. I can only say that I will right heartily go halves with him in any such sum that may be considered fittest; and it will be a true tho' small relief to my mind to do so. I know [not]5 whether I should have spoken to you about this at all; for perhaps he has not yet mentioned it to you, and the consultation may be still incomplete: but I could not help signifying my readiness even before the time.

Our poor dear Mother will suffer sore; but you, of course, will do all that is in you to spare her true heart any sorrow that is not inevitable. The good old heart of a Mother! She is the saddest and the tenderest sight we have in this world; one could weep floods of tears, were there not something in it of a sacredness that led one beyond tears. It was the Most High God that made Mothers and the sacred affection of children's hearts: yes, it was He;—and shall it not, in the end, be all well, under His management? It shall be all well; on this side of death, or beyond death. We will pray once more, from our inmost heart if we can, “Our Father which art in Heaven, thy will be done!”—

My dear Brother, I am scribbling here to give some utterance to myself on this occasion; and yet I feel that I have no utterance; that all I can say is but dumb half-utterance;—that in fact I ought to end and hold my peace, and leave you to conceive what it is that I am meaning. You know well enough what I mean! I pray with my whole soul all blessings to be upon you. I bid you be of courage, and quit yourself like a man; I prophesy all good, spiritual and temporal, to you if you do. And so let me not speak another word.

You need not answer this at present; you will have enough to do otherwise in these days.—

Last week you would receive a Post-office order (or was it the beginning of this week) for two pounds.6 I think it was not specifically mentioned that one of the pounds was a gift to the poor little Lassie who has just arrived, and is lying asleep on its Mothers' knee, little conscious of all this bustle!7 I hope there will be something for snaps [gingerbread biscuits] to Jane and Tom besides.— I expect to hear very soon from the Doctor again. I send my blessing to you all; and am ever

Your affectionate Brother /

T. Carlyle