August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 18 September 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430918-TC-AC-01; CL 17: 135-137


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London, 18 September, 1843—

My dear Brother,

It is a long time since I have had the smallest written intercourse with you. At the time of your departure I was involved in such a whirl of hurry, and business night and day, as I hardly ever was in before: I did write to you in time for Liverpool, nay the Letter had been lying there on the very morning (Saturday) when you sent your Letter off to me; but you never got it; a good while afterwards it came back to me, without effect! I shall not soon forget the emotions of those days. At every vacant moment my mind was full of the image of you,—all the sadder that I had to fall to work again, and think only of my work. Furthermore I always hoped to get up perhaps and see you still; on the Tuesday I should have been ready for it, and I still thought you might linger for a day or two: alas, on the Tuesday came John's Letter to say that you had sailed!— I keep your last Note to me as a very stern and yet blessed memorial: my short Note to you, which you never read, is now laid beside it; they shall lie there to keep me in mind of several things. Dear Brother, I write all this, lest at any moment you should have fancied what never was the fact that I was too careless of writing to you; sure enough that was not it! Two weeks after your departure I myself, considerably exhausted by writing &c, set out on a wandering and visiting thro' Wales North and South, by Liverpool, Scotland, not forgetting Scotsbrig and dear old Annandale; and it was only three nights ago that I returned hither, and for the first time got sight of your Letter to the Doctor; and knew rightly where to address that I might find you. My Tour, ending in a Sail by Steam in rough seas all the way from Dundee, has in the first place tired and lamed me so that I can hardly stir: a few words, however, shall go by this Packet; so much is still possible for me: Jack agreed that he should address you at John Carlyle's in Canada, I at R. Clow's in New York State; and both our letters we hope, will find you without much delay. Luckier than both yours; for of these only one (that written to Jack) has yet come to hand.1 Your two New York Newspapers came, one of them while I was at Dumfries; you cannot overrate the joy they gave us. Our good Mother brought out the Cover of hers with a peculiar look when I came back to Scotsbrig. Your letter to our Mother also will surely come? At all events, we should be right thankful for what we have got.

We are all much pleased with the healthy practical tone of your Letter, and take it as a good augury of your success in that new field. What you say of the Yankees agrees too well with my own experience and ideas of them. With some few shining exceptions they have come to appear in my eyes as a truly unpleasant set of persons, full of cant, full of vanity, and of a forwardness, not to say an impudence that seeks its fellow in the world. Visages among them, not unlike “living red herrings,” I have also seen. Not a pleasant set of men! Of course we cannot in the least advise you in that new scene; but perhaps you will find upper Canada with Scotch neighbours round you, a more kindly place. You will have time to look about you, and deliberate. A piece of ground all your own, moreover, would perhaps be most acceptable to you. You have endless skill in you for battling with a work like what that would be. Jack has already advised you about health—pray attend very specially to that. We shall long to know where you ha[ve] ultimately pitched your tent; many a thought we shall all send thither, I believe. Nor, if you will write duly, shall due Letters from one of us at least be ever wanting while I can wag a pen. Courage, my dear Brother; may the worst of our days be past!

The wretched windbag Hanning sent a Letter to Jamie while I was at Scotsbrig; urging that Jenny should be advised to go out with you to join him. Jamie, after consulting with me and also with Jenny herself, answered in brief, that neither he nor you nor Jenny herself nor any one of the kindred wished to hear any farther talk from such a character as he had proved himself; that in short he had better go his ways, and leave all us to go ours. The consummate blown-up Nothingness! Jenny herself seems now to have renounced him: if he did chance to marry, or to get hanged, or in some way to terminate all legal hold of her, it would be by far the handsomest thing he could do.— At Scotsbrig, as Jack will have told you, our good Mother was in better health than when you left her; indeed wonderfully cheery; speaking about you and your voyage with endless affection indeed, but without despondency, with peaceable hope: the good old Mother; as good a Mother as lives on this Earth at present! Jenny had staid with her for a considerable while; two Cousins from Hawick, good young women, one of them in poor health, were there when I came away about a fortnight ago; they and Jenny were to go over to Gill for a while; then she perhaps to join them there. Alternative like that was judged to be the best way. The kindred all were in good health, except Isabella who remained as before. Jamie seemed to have a fair crop, and this is the best harvest weather I have almost ever seen. Austin was behind with his rent; inevitably, like many others. A good harvest was growing everywhere; but no abatement, or hardly any was yet visible of the Universal distress. Rejoice that you are out of it. Black days are coming for this country.— Alas, dear Brother my paper is done! Write by the very earliest chance; you shall have a better answer in return. God bless you all.

T. Carlyle

Jane is well here, better than her worst. She had provided a little gift for you, quite useless but very precious for it had been her Father's: this stood ready, but could not be sent in time; one day we may have a better opportunity.— I rejoice greatly to hear that Tom was becoming a brave fellow worthy of the name. Our love to him and Jane,—and their Mother and all the rest. Heads up, hearts up, my brave ones! We all salute you from the heart. I desire also my very kind remembrances to Robert Clow, of whose welfare I rejoice always to hear.— Tell me what way I shall send you the Dumfries Courier, or the Herald if you like that better. Brotherly regards to John when you see him.2 Adieu, dear Brother, once more.

T. C.