August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO J. G. MARSHALL; 13 October 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18461013-TC-JGM-01; CL 21:74-76.


Chelsea, 13 Octr 1846—

Dear Marshall,

There is a young Physician here, an Aberdeen man about thirty, whom I have sometimes called my “Scotch Rhinoceros”; a man really of singular capability for work, and at present in great need of finding some;—concerning whom I have decided to write a line to you. Dr Christie (that is his name) was recommended to me, some two years ago, for the copying of old Manuscripts, searching among old Pamphlets, and other confused labour, in the British Museum. He worked with me for a good while at that time, and has done so, off and on, ever since,—in tasks quite new and foreign to him: so that I have had good opportunity to know him on all sides; and on the whole can pronounce my decided conviction that he is a man of real natural worth, real natural intelligence, simplicity and energy; fit for any kind of work in which such qualities, aided by constant patience and good sense, can avail,—as I believe you will admit they do avail in most kinds of “work.”

Christie's education, as you observe, has been medical; and all manner of Degrees and Diplomas Scotch and English, and the testimonies of Sir James Clark and others (who take much interest in him) will testify that he has learned that business well:1 and on the whole I believe, on evidence that satisfies my own rather skeptical notions on that subject, that the man can actually afford good help and solace to human disease where he meets it; and is really an expert Doctor, likely to become very expert if longer experience were added. But this is by no means his only qualification. From this down to keeping a School (for he is a tolerable university scholar too)—to keeping of a School or a Ledger, or being a “Policeman on a railway” (which I am told is the lot of Seven Doctors on the Great Western at present),—in any kind of honest work where cheerful strength and intelligence and fidelity were the conditions, I should augur well of Christie. A rugged simple humble man with an incurable rusticity of manner (rusticity and simplicity, by no means silliness or rudeness),—and with a power of work in him, which it is very sorrowful to see imprisoned in this manner. For he is now at very low ebb; and would gladly welcome any tolerable work on cheap terms, especially any medical or intellectual work:—after various efforts, [on] the part of friends and himself, which have all without blame of his, mis[sed,] there is nothing in the least satisfactory, or of any permanency, found for him here to do.

In the North Country, the country especially of work, and where the gold can be known even without the stamp, and a rustic Aberdeen manner does not condemn a man,—is there nobody to whom in any way this Christie could be of use? It seems to me if a Master-Worker were seeking medical or moral or any kind of miscellaneous help to a Body of Workers, this Christie might be well worth £150 a-year to him. Decidedly he might go farther and pay dearer, and find a worse man!— Alas, that men should be perishing for want of work, and the world and its work be perishing for want of men, all the while,—this seems to me one of the saddest considerations!—

Well, I will request you to turn this over in your mind, and apply it to the circle of affairs round you. I have written in great haste; but will2 all the veracity I could: I hope you catch some outline of the real fact from these hurried strokes; if there be any chance of the least help in your power for this sad case, I am persuaded you will be right glad to employ it for me. And so I leave it with you. After a due survey of the matter, in itself and in its relations, you will write me a word about it by and by.

What a time since I have seen or heard of any of you! I know not how it has come. I have been very busy, sometimes very dark and secluded; but of old Friends by no means forgetful! I hope we shall meet before long, and somewhat oftener for the future.

With very kind remembrances to Mrs Marshall3 and to all kind friends at Leeds,

Yours ever truly, /

T. Carlyle