The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 1 January 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510101-TC-JAC-01; CL 26: 3-4


Chelsea, 1 jany, 1851—

Dear Brother,

I did not know you were certain to stay so long at Linlathen,1 or I might have written to you sooner. Your Note on Saturday first told me clearly where you were. I must send you one word of New-year's day wishes, tho' extremely hurried today.

I have just been wrapping up a Package of small etceteras for my Mother at Scotsbrig; which operation, besides hurting my fingers, has thoroughly fagged me,—as well as consumed all my time;—but it is well worth while if it give our good Mother a moment's pleasure on this solemn day of the Year. To you, dear Brother, I have nothing but my poor wish of “Happy Newyear”; but I wished somehow to send you that, in writing; tho' I well know you give me credit for always thinking it and feeling it, whether I write it or not.— Ah me, ah me, it is a stern affair this course of earthly existence for the sons of men! But we will say, as poor Edward Irving used to do in the like case, “May the worst of our Years be past!”2—and so leave these reflexions. “Wir heissen euch hoffen [We bid you to hope]”; that truly is the divine message to us: “Work, and despair not.”3

Our news here do not amount to much. On Christmas day we had Tom Wilson (growing more and more a radical reverend now), Maccall, Ballantyne (of the Leader), and John Welsh4 (Cousin John, from his Richmond Observatory); and were a cheerful enough little party. Another night Kingsley was here, and Darwin:5 K. stuttered more than usual, was very yeasty and explosive, but rational and good at bottom;—intrinsically really a good fellow of his sort. Darwin looked with a benignant cast-metal smile upon him and his humane flufferies. Miss Wynn6 was here too:—and tomorrow, we are to go with Darwin and an Official of the Darwinians (one Perry, a clever little practical fellow, “Inspector” by office) to see the Pentonville Model Prison!7 Oh dear, oh dear!—

A Letter came from Jean yesterday: I confess I wish I had some wing of that “Drungan Lodge” concern to my own special self and use; I would willingly pay my share of it, if good chance of partnership could arise! The Cullivait big house, and a removal into Dumfriesshire altogether, would not quite do at this stage of the business.8

You will tell me particularly how Mr Erskine is getting on, whether he does not think of London this Spring;—and give him, and the Household in general, my affectionate regards. “Happy Newyear and many of them”: to few persons in this world can such a wish be more due from me!— — This morning there was a Note from Tom Holcroft (Bombay), introducing a Sir Something Ford, and along with it (from Brighton) a Note in black stating that poor Ford, on the voyage home, had suddenly died.9 A tragic-looking thing: Jane has burnt it. Adieu dear Brother. Ever your affecte T. Carlyle