January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 3 February 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450203-TC-AC-01; CL 19: 17-19


Chelsea, London, 3 feby, 1845—

My dear Brother,

John, I believe, is writing to you today; and certainly there need be no busier man than I am at this present; nevertheless I will not let the monthly Packet go again without sending you my blessing and express New Years wishes. It will be worth a shilling to me,—and to you. This morning there came a Letter from Jamie, direct from Scotsbrig: I will inclose that too, as the freshest news; it will bring the whole scene before you, more vividly than Jack can.

I was charged indeed specially from our dear good Mother to send you her thanks for the Letter she had from you some time ago; which, I dare say, gave her the liveliest satisfaction,—good old Mother! She has not sent me anything from her own hand this long while, but employs Jenny to write: however, I can understand she is really tolerably well, and they often say “better than usual.” Jamie's new lease of Scotsbrig will be a great thing for her; I did not see well how she was to adjust herself in a new establishment; and am very glad she is to continue as before. Jamie, as perhaps John will explain to you, has made a favourable kind of bargain about Scotsbrig; and is full of brisk zeal, draining &c &c. His wife continues still weakly.1 Jenny is at present there with our Mother. Mary is a little complaining at Gill; the rest, in spite of our dirty broken ever-changing weather, are in their usual way.— Jamie also alludes to the letting of Craigenputtoch: ah me, what recollections join themselves to that,—very miserable, some of them! But they are all past; “may the worst of our days be past!” I have got James Stewart to take charge of letting Puttoch for me.2 Peter Austin wants it “for one of his sons,” I am told: Peter, to my memory, figures as a still disagreeabler body than Joseph himself;3 I will not interfere in favour of Peter: it is probable Joseph will get it again,—poor Stot [stupid fellow], why not! One should be humane even to Stots. We are divided from all that now, you and I, as by a great gulph! I often want to be in the Country; but Puttoch always makes me shudder: indeed Scotland at large, and Annandale itself, is infinitely sad to me; it is as if I should never return thither, and could not except as a strange alien creature, not at home any more. Courage! Let us not keep looking back; let us look forward, with hope, and diligently bear a hand!

Your Letters, dear Brother, are on the whole very comfortable to me. I see all your sorrows; the deep loneliness, mournful affections of your heart: alas, I know them well! But there comes good out of all that; beyond doubt there does. You are working as a man should; you are in good health, which above all rejoices me: you must work along, endure along. Depend upon it, there is no good act that you do there but will be as seed sown to bring forth good; no evil that you repress in yourself or another but will be as the rooting out of weeds: God's blessing does attend such things, there as here,—and in several respects the work is more towardly there than here. Go on, and prosper. We shall meet again, I think; and find that we are both of us “made better by suffering.”4 If it be God's will!—

I am sunk deeper and deeper into my bottomless Task here, and feel often quite disconsolate and almost desperate about it: but I must hold on. Never turn back, till you cannot help it! I do make progress, but of the slowest. My health is not very good,—that indeed is the ugliest feature of the whole business; a frightful feature! But I am long used to that. I think of getting a horse in summer, if I can manage it,—but it is very expensive, and I grudge it on such a business. Nothing new ails me at all; only the old story somewhat aggravated by my town life and work. Courage, courage!— Jane has been weakly all winter; the Sun will return; then she will brighten up again. She sends you, and all yours, many a kind wish.

Dear Brother, you must, now in the winter time, send us a full description of your New Place,—what name do you call it?5 I am delighted to hear of your grain and your cows and poultry,—and all the bits of Bairns running about, gathering strength and size when we are to grow weak and grey by and by. God Almighty bless you all. Give my kind regards to Jenny; to good little Jane, to Tom and all the rest in mass.6 I have not given up the notion of a Box to Canada; it is one of the beautiful things that lie before me “when my Book is done”! Ever your affectione

T. Carlyle