January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 31 May 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430531-TC-AC-01; CL 16: 188-190


Chelsea, 31 May, 1843—

My dear Brother,

Your Letter which arrived yesterday (Tuesday) is very sorrowful; yet at the same time resolute, sincere, and on the whole ought to be of good omen to us. A new Note from me can do nothing more than express anew my deep fellow-feeling with you; my exhortation and encouragement to go on bravely, and in this your difficult position to quit you like a man! We have often sore afflictions laid on us, which turn out to be the highest blessings when the results of them are summed up. You have had a dreary time of it for many years;1 and things without and things within have gone for awry: you are now called as it were to make a revolution, a radical reform; and that is no easy business! But by Heaven's favour it may be a most blessed one. I say often I have known no man so wasted, fettered, and sunk in deep imprisonments as my poor Brother Alick; one of the bravest of men too;—but deficient in patience, in candor of self-examination; too violent, on the whole, for making his way thro' quagmires, and rough boggy ground! My dear Brother, it will be the joyfullest thing that can befal me to hear that you have gained new life and virtue, in these sore trials; that you have risen into victory at last, after all this fighting. It is a change not to be effected without pain, without agony of heart; but it is cheap at any price of pain; it is great and blessed, if it happened in the lowest cottage in Earth; it is a thing well-pleasing in the sight of God and man, and is sure of its exceeding great reward! I forbear to speak farther; for I have often felt that my silence was more eloquent than anything I could say.

Canada is very vague to you; and unluckily I can throw no practical light on it. If John do not write, did it never strike you to look in by Clow, who I think is in New-York State,—perhaps not far from the road to Hamilton?2 I could give you a good Letter to Greig, tho' I think the last failed of an answer. It is represented as a pleasant region (one ought to see also, whether wholesome or not), and more cultivated and settled than upper Canada. But a man that can till the Earth, what has he to dread when there is free Earth offered him to cultivate, and God's sky and blessing spread over his head? There is something manful and heroic in taking one's stand on that Ground; saying. “I will appeal to nobody, but to the Maker over me; He will prosper me, if I do follow His appointments!” I flatter myself with thinking that all your qualities and talents will come out in this new employment far better than they have ever hitherto done. Your children, your little Jane, will be a great treasure to you, yearly growing more valuable in every sense of the word;—how different from the case of children here, in this country which seems doomed. Courage, my dear Brother; stand up to the task, and you will find it doable: “all tasks are like swimming”; the water threatens to drown one; yet dash fearlessly abroad in it, it does not drown you!3 I augur much good, as the fruit of all these sufferings. Men are not made anew, and reformed into health and life of soul again, without terrible sufferings! Your Brother's affection, his remembrance of your affection to him, remains to you (know this always) while he continues on this Earth.— And so I will say no more,—if I have not even already said too much.

The Tobacco, I begin to imagine, was half a stone, not a quarter? In that case, I owe the little Baby a sovereign still for a frock to her. God's blessing be on you all. Your affectionate,

T. Carlyle