April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE ; 23 June 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440623-TC-JC-01; CL 18: 80-81


Chelsea, 23 june, 1844—

Dear Jamie,

Your man Thomas Bell, of the Wylie-hole Bells,1 called here with your Letter the other day: I recognised his face as belonging to the kindred, and for what I remembered of old days was very willing to do him some service if I could. His Father, I could not but remember, ran about the braes in boyhood, with my Father!— I was very wae to look at him, poor creature, and to think how he has been sailing about these ten years, with a surgeon's diploma in his pocket, and I daresay good enough skill in his head, at so very low a rate of wages.——— I gave him no hope of my being able to assist him: but in the meanwhile I am trying what I can do among certain Indian friends of mine; and it is perhaps possible that something in his favour either now or afterwards may turn up.

Now I want to know from you very distinctly what kind of man this Thomas Bell, as to moral character and behaviour, is;—especially if you can certify me as to these two things, That he has nothing to do with drinking whisky, nothing with telling lies. Certain of his Brothers, I think, went to destruction in both these ways?2 This one has a fair appearance: but it would quicken my interest in him if I knew for certain his solidity in these particulars,—as certainly all pleading for him or recommending of him on my part ought to be instantly abandoned if it be known that he falls short in these.— Certify me about him, therefore, all that you can. Perhaps Park3 or some trustworthy individual has known the man; perhaps in some way you may be able to attain a conviction to yourself about him. As the Doctor is beside you at present, he will write when you have examined. And the sooner the better; for I am to hear something on a certain side relative to him, in about a week hence.

This is all I had to write today. The Doctor, to whom I must answer a Note of last night, will give you the rest of my news or no-news. I am very glad of two things: That Isabella seems somewhat stronger (such is John's report of her); and that the drought has done you no harm. We are all burnt brown with it here, and have had no effectual rain yet, in fact hardly anything worthy to be called a good shower.— You would be right glad of Sandy's news too!—

Your affectionate Brother /

T. Carlyle

Of course, to avoid disappointments, you need not whisper anything of my hope there may be for poor Bell; which indeed I fear is but faint at any rate.