The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 24 January 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510124-TC-JAC-01; CL 26: 26-27


Chelsea, 24 jany, 1851—

My dear Brother,

I had your Letter from Scotsbrig,1 and last night there came another to Jane, which also had a small inclosure for me: thanks for your good news. We are very glad our good Mother is in so tolerable a state after your return;—glad that you have got safe back again, and find all so tolerably off in these dark days. Jamie is busy draining, I see; which surely is a good work, and I think one that will pay him by and by. You are getting to your employment too, it would appear; I hope you will persist till the preliminary impediments are overcome: after that there will be no danger; once the wheels get warm, all manner of rust and obstruction will go for less and less. Certainly it is a clear case you should finish this Dante; I have hardly known an enterprise more decidedly prescribed for a man in the course of my experience. Persist and prosper!—

Poor John Carlyle, he is at rest at length! Many a time has he been in my mind during these weeks; and the thought of him has rebuked me when I have been secretly fretting about my own affairs, and thinking them so perverse and obstructive. Poor soul, his weary plodding struggle thro' the quagmires and base jungles of this Earthly life is over now; and he has got it all done! In the state he was in, one could wish for nothing else.2— I here inclose a draught for Two Sovereigns: one of please give to Jamie; the other is what I had before contributed along with you:—and so that sad matter ends.

You need not send those Prison Reports, tho' I am glad to hear of new progress in that direction, on that particular matter: indeed I perceive the Model-Prison concern is falling into such a state in many men's minds, there will before very long be an end of it. One particular infatuation will be abated;—I see also there is everywhere a stirring towards setting Paupers (and much more, Criminals and Felons) into employment and under real drill and “instruction”: good will come of all that, by slow degrees, and after many days, as usual. We have lately had a certain Prison-Inspector Perry (once a Doctor, Darwin's Friend) calling on us; he took us to the Pentonville “Model” one day (a truly villanous3 incarnation and petrifaction of Benevolent Tartuffery4); he also, I find, is warmly of my opinion about “Devil's regiments of the line.”5

Here has Tom Wilson come calling; and I must go out with him;—small joy on it! A day of dirty frosty fog. No work begun yet: ah me! But we are trying; we will surely try.—Jane has lost her dog Nero; ran away three days ago,—a great sorrow to her. On the other hand, Ay Sterling, poor soul, has just come back; incidentally reintroduced, a much-repentant man, by Darwin;—he sat two hours, last night, and a little obstructed my reading. I am sorry for him, too, the poor idle obstructed, foolish, yet not ill-meaning man.—— Here is a Volume of a new Burns, whh I send today: perhaps you may find it worth running over. Jamie too, who is a lover of Burns. Give it to anybody to read (who has clean fingers), but preserve it.— My love to every one; blessings to my dear Mother. Ever yours T. Carlyle