January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 5 March 1829; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18290305-TC-JAC-01; CL 5:8-11.


Craigenputtoch, 5th March, 1829—

My Dear Doctor,

We received your many-dated Letter,1 last night; with real pleasure to find that you were still well, and were advancing, like Hannibal across the Alps, thro' many troubles, with your broad face homewards. Let us hope that you are now far over the Rhine, Strasburg with Slawkenbergius' Nose2 and the wonderful Minster clean behind you, and the click-clack of Parisian ‘Cafés et deux billards’ [Coffees and Two Billiard Tables] at this very time saluting your astonished ear. I never was more hurried in my life; being in the very thickest of an ‘Article,’ and hemmed in by Time: however Jane is for Dumfries tomorrow, and I gladly answer you without delay.

I have already written to Fraser, requesting him to forward you ten Pounds3 without delay, aux soins [in the care] &c of your Baron Banker, by such means as seemed the fittest to him; and warning him that I would direct you to expect the remittance within a week after your reading this Letter. It seems probable that the Baron d'Eichthal will himself be the paymaster; but not certain; and any way it will be settled in some satisfactory way, I hope; for Fraser is a punctual obliging man.

We are all well here, and all nearly well at Scotsbrig, Mag being greatly better, indeed in perfect peptic health, tho' the wound in her breast was still open. For some weeks we were in a real degree of alarm about her; the doctors looking quite helpless, and most of the neighbouring old women having given her up. She now eats everything, including red-herrings, and takes no drugs and needs none.— The public is in a bustling state here; for besides springwork, we have trees to plant, and much digging, and I got no manservant, as I had meant to do, at Candlemas, but must wait till Whitsunday; and Alick's men and himself are all busy enough with their own concerns. Meanwhile I keep within doors; toiling vehemently at an Essay on Voltaire, which, with another on Novalis, is to appear in Fraser's Review, about the first of April.4 Thus ‘mall may be kept in shaft’5 a little longer; for Craigenputtoch has naturally enough a wide throat for money, especially hitherto. Fraser asks rather eagerly after your Paper on German Medicine;6 but this, I suppose, like so much else, is still lying in the inkstand.

Are you looking at the wonders of Paris; the Pont des Arts, the Notre-Dame, the Pillar of Austerlitz, the site of the Bastille? Is not there a strange old pump-looking erection with dragons in that very Place des Victoires? Cast your eye also on the Sorbonne, the forsaken crow-nest of Theology. You can also go to the Rue de la Paix No. 9. and look at the Hotel de Wagram where your Brother once dwelt. Also, if possible, find out the Rue Traversière and the Rue de Beaune, where Voltaire lived with du Chatelet, and where he died; and bring me some account of them. Both must be near the Tuileries, I should think, on the north side of the River. Can you see Villemain, Cousin, Lamartine,7 or any of these new Litterateurs? I fear not. But go and dine with the Restaurateur Prevôt one day in honour of me, and with Véry, tho rather dearer, another: they are both in the Palais Royal, where ‘Vice sitteth on his filagree seats, and Improvement advanceth with slow and heavy steps to displace him.[’] Can you buy me a cheap lithograph print of Voltaire, said to be in any measure accurate?8 Above all things, however, hasten home!

Arrived in London, you will find the distracted but still good-hearted Orator, if you like to stay with him: his Brother George is also settled there as a Medical Practitioner.9 Fraser whom you will hear of at the Blacks' 2. Tavistock-street Covent-Garden, is fitting up a house; and says, I have no doubt sincerely, you might have a room with him, and bachelor's fare. At all events, do not neglect to see him, for he may show you this and that, and will be very kind to you. You must also find out Charles Buller (Fraser knows his address) who is now studying in London; and make my compliments to him. I could wish much also that you saw Mrs Strachey, and assured her of my continued regard. Do not mention her name at 25. Bedford Square, Mrs Montagu's, where you are partly expected!10 The Montagues will receive you well, and perhaps show you Badams, or you may find him in Birmingham (if you pass that way), where he was lately married.11 But London, I should think, will be no fascinating place for you at present, where in addition to the thousand-voiced tumult that reigns there thro' all time, all people are at present well nigh distracted on those everlasting ‘Catholic Claims.’12 There is a petition on its way even from Dunscore!— And in Edinburgh they have scarcely done hanging Burke, the anatomical murderer; and nothing but ropes and sticking-plaste[r] are haunting the imaginations of men.13 It is believed that a new [law on] the matter of ‘Anatomical subjects’ will soon be passed, and men wi[ll] g[et?] the essential ‘Dissection’ in their own Country.14

All this, beloved Tongleg, throws thee into the most violent tumult; and thou art ready to take wings, and fly in fifty directions at once. Nevertheless festina lente [make haste slowly]; do one thing at a time; and by quick despatch let us see thee here, according to promise, on the first of April, ‘Cuckoo day,’ at the very latest. Our Mother will rejoice in a Letter, only tell her nothing about Topography and Statistics, sciences she cares not for; and solely about your own feelings and adventures. You have some real friends, besides your natural ones, in this old country, that will welcome you ‘in their choicest mood.’15 William Grahame and Ben Nelson are always inquiring, and with honest solicitude, about your welfare and return.

I have written much, or rather it should be, long, today; and am altogether wearied. At dusk I had a walk or race, half-way to Blackmark Gate or Gap (for there is no gate there, and will not be henceforth); and now it is past ten. The hills are all gleaming like Strombolis or Aetnas, with the burning of health; otherwise this place is silent, solitary as Tadmor of the Wilderness.16 Yet the infinite Vault is over us, and this Earth, our little Ship of Space, is under us; and man is everywhere in his Makers eye and hand!— But why should I preach?

To conclude, Jane still engages for the dumpling; and hopes to see you, shortly after eating it, a contented man.17 You will tell us of wonders in the undiscovered countries, ‘of antres vast and deserts idle, and men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders.’18 Come home, dearest Tongleg, and tell us all! We shall expect you weekly and daily. God ever keep you, and lead you!— Now my weary lips I close, leave me, leave me to repose!— Your Brother,

T. Carlyle.

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