April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 18 August 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440818-TC-AC-01; CL 18: 184-187


Chelsea, London, 18 August, 1844—

My dear Brother,

We have to thank you for the interesting and comfortable news we got a few days ago, by your Letter written “at the hour when you should have rested.” No doubt you had need enough of rest; nevertheless it was a good work to let us all have assurance of your wellbeing, to gratify and comfort us all by news of your procedure in that far home you have found. I sent the Letter off, directly after we had both read it here with true satisfaction; our good Mother and the Doctor, I learn since, found it straightway in their passing thro' Ecclefechan from the Gill. I have had two Notes from the Doctor since; by one of which he warns me that I must write to you, and not he this time; and that this is the last day for doing it. Our dear Mother, I am to assure you, is well, better than your imaginations represent; Jack bids me “assure you with perfect truth that she is at least as well as she was last year, and in better spirits.” “She was extremely glad to to1 see his (Alick's) Letter, and hear that he had got strong again and able to work vigorously. She desires to have her love and blessings sent to him and all his household.” This will be the most important piece of intelligence I have to send you. The rest of us are all in the old way, if not better. Jamie, while the harvest gets ready, is looking out for a new Farm, Jack assisting him; as yet without any success. Our Mother seems to have decided that it will be agreeablest for all parties, to continue living with Jamie for her part; Jamie it seems is warmly of the same mind. I commissioned the Doctor to look accurately into this business of a Dwelling for our Mother; and, if need were, to buy or build her a fit House: but it seems as if all parties were rather tending towards the above arrangement. Jenny will, as before, come and see our Mother whenever there is need or convenience; but they & she both think it will be better that she retain her old quarters withal. Isabella, in these weeks, has got a notable accession of strength, and can now go about the kitchen, and look after her affairs herself; which is of course an immense comfort to poor Jamie and her whole house. At the Gill, it appears, there is a goodish outlook for this season; and all goes on well. At Dumfries too all well. The Doctor, as perhaps you already know, has been in those regions some two or three months now; very idle, I suppose, for most part: but indeed he has not any work exactly handy anywhere at present. Perhaps he will find some by and by; but we must just give him his head up in the mean time, and make no observations.

Jane went away this summer, two months ago, to see her Uncle and Cousins at Liverpool; almost the only kindred she has now left her. She staid there about a month, with them and certain other friends in that quarter; she came home to me, certainly not worse than she went away; and has been pretty well ever since. Our City is now totally “empty,” as they say; that is about 100,000 persons have rushed out of it, to bathe, saunter, travel, and shoot partridges; among whom are very nearly all the persons we have any acquaintance with: so that we are quieter here for the present than we could be almost anywhere; on which ground I decide to continue where I am for this season, and not go out of Town at all. I got but little quietness last year, and no perceptible improvement of health or heart, tho' I went seeking it at a considerable cost over many weary miles. I have never suffered from the heat this year, tho' it has been a very genial summer, and till the July time exceedingly dry: but there has always been a fresh brisk wind; besides I understand the climate better now, and guard against it better. My work is terribly behind;—but I struggle along at it, and hope one day to bring some result that shall be useful out of all this.

We were all delighted, dear Brother, to read of your new Home in these late [Let]ters: the image of you and all your Bairns planting Indian corn, the Father digging holes, and the little ones busily dropping-in grains, was the beautifulest thing to me I had seen for some time. God's blessing is on that, I think, if on anything under this Sun. Doubt it not, dear Brother, better days are coming than you have for long been acquainted with. You always were a fell [shrewd] little fellow since you were first bolted in this world;—and if you will struggle to abate that fiery impatience of mind, which confuses one in all ways so that one can no longer see clearly what is one's own error and one's own truth, and thus go on in the right direction, at the right step, I do predict a blessed harvest of good for you; good temporal and spiritual! Write to us always how you get on. Never mind how brief you are in busy times. We will wait till Winter for a complete description;—tell us only in the meanwhile how you lie from Brantford and from John Carlyle's, whether there is any brook or landmark near, so that one may find you exactly on the map. Your tanned cheeks, grown thin, and with a deep lirk [crease] in them; your muscles all grown lean, but tough as iron, and invincible by toil as formerly: all this is not sad to me, it is beautiful and blessed. Only, have a care: do not work too hard either, to do yourself a mischief; that also is a fault! Remember our brave Father;—I have never seen such a worker! It were better for all of us, if we were like him in many ways— If the first brush were by, you will not be so pushed in another season: the beauty of such a place is that if you are honest and wise towards it, it will infallibly reward you. Poor little Alick and his ague does not please us so well: but we hope it has past too as the others did: it seems as if all of you would need to get acclimated in that new country; then, we hope, you will be as healthy as in the old.— Will you inquire, the first time you have opportunity, what is the way of getting a Package, Parcel, Box or the like conveyed to you; what it costs by the cubic foot, laid down within reach of you; and what is the best port to ship it from, London, Liverpool or which? This by the first chance you have of accurately ascertaining.— Jack farther bids me say you are not to put “By Halifax British Mail” on the backs of the Letters any more; it is at best superfluous: it was the cause, he thinks, why certain of your Letters were much belated some months ago. (No more room here) When you see Brother John, give him our kind regards. Does Jamie send you or him the Herald Newspaper?2 I think it might be worth while; it would be very easy to do, if you spoke of it. You will have ample time for reading in Winter,—Newspapers and better things.— The harvest, they say, is going to be good, for the Corns, with us this year, tho' bad for hay and fodder:—they seem to me to be getting rather ugly weather for it in this quarter; the wheat hereabouts, I understand, is by no means all got in yet. Distress, difficulty, discontent abound among the working classes as when you left us; nay some of the Ld John Russells now are got to admit it.— Adieu dear Brother; I have only half room to subscribe myself—Your affectionate— T. Carlyle

Jane sends her kind love to all of you; rejoices heartily along with me to hear of your welldoing and wellbeing. You must commend me to Tom and Jane; excellent workers I think they will both be!— ‘Span of horses’ is a Dutch term: Span is still the German name for team; to span is to yoke. It was Scotch people that first of all settled in New York region; but the Dutch succeeded them, and staid long.3 I suppose you have heard nothing at all from Clow, since he struck forth into the West?— I am very glad you did not go in that direction. Yankees seem to me even worse than Canadians can be. One of my best Friends here, poor John Sterling, a very noble and gifted man, is now understood to be dying, of consumption in the Isle of Wight. I got a Note from him last Sunday; like the Farewell of a Hero;—which I shall never forget!4