January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 21 January 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310121-TC-JAC-01; CL 5:212-217.


Craigenputtoch, 21st Jany, 1831—

My Dear Brother,

Last Wednesday came your Books, all safe; no Parcel of Montague's; and what we grudged very much no scratch of a pen from yourself. The last two Letters also hurried, and half-full; communicating little, except perhaps that you were in bodily health, and felt yourself bound to write to us. Does your fraternal conscience say nothing on this point? For me I think it wrong and unfriendly in several respects. You are there in the focus of British activity at a great era in the world's history, at a great era in your own; I am here in the dead silence of peat-moss, yet warmly interested in all that pertains to both these eras; and you take the trouble to tell me very little. Some half hundred things you might throw great light on for me; indeed scarcely anything you could write would not instruct me: nevertheless you will not so much as fill your paper, no matter with what. Depend upon it, dear Jack, all this is not right. But what remedy have we? A man's Letters are his Letters; you must accept them as such, or cease to correspond with him, and then you get justice! Therefore I will say no more on this point. But one thing more especially grieves me, my dear Brother: that in these hasty scrawls of Letters, I trace some perturbation of mind diligently hidden from me. O this, be sure, is not right. Speak of your cares, man, to a heart that loves you: they will grow lighter by your very speaking of them; Order arises out of speech especially out of writing. Attempt to explain what you do know, and you already know something more. But with this too I have done. As was said, your Letters are your Letters; and I, or any man, have no right to complain of them, but only to take thankfully what you give.

I have been busy for three weeks, have finished Taylor, and send it off tomorrow: it cannot appear till the Number following the first. Taylor is a clever old Philister, and I have salted him according to ability; there is also something about Welt-Litteratur [world literature]:1 on the whole, a baddish Article, not without some particles of worth, and may help a little to guide our German studies from some aberration. In writing to Napier, I mentioned the possibility of his receiving a Paper from you: he was to try it, and accept or reject quite freely, according to his judgement. I hope and trust, it will do. There is no Periodical so steady as the Edinburgh Review; the salary fair, the vehicle respectable. Whether Diet may be a quite popular subject I do not know; but I calculate with some confidence that you will make a reasonable story out of it. Are you apprised that some three years ago, there was an Article on that subject; the poorest of Articles; which Jeffrey too interwove with a constant running thread of contradiction, almost every alternate paragraph was his, and the whole looked laughable enough. I fancy these artists will hardly have trenched on your ground: nevertheless look at their work. I cannot direct you to the Number more nearly than so: that it was the one published immediately before our leaving Edinr,2 perhaps therefore, that of March or April 1828. You should try to be new, and above all to give new facts. Are there any Dietetic habits peculiar on the Continent; any public Regulations or approaches to such anywhere: some notices of these or the like would be very interesting. I have surely heard that some Governments do take a certain charge of the People's health, as all should. Public Lectures on Regimen would be next to Public Lectures on Morality. Will you touch on this? Can you tell us accurately how Boxers and the like are dieted in England? If so explain it satisfactorily; for it will be new to many. Will any of your Germans tell you how the old Athletes were trained? Can you state any curious particulars about the various diets of nations generally? Say thus much at least: Man can live on all things, from whale-blubber (as in Greenland) to clay-earth (as at the mouth of the Orinoco, see Humboldt).3 Then you have all the Passions &c influenced by eating; madness itself lying in the stomach: one can go mad at any time one likes, by laying a cupfull of alcohol to the walls of that organ. Excuse these shoulderings at the wheel: I have no force to help you, but if I had—! On the whole, dear Jack, do your best; and exceed not twenty pages; shorter if you can; brevity for this time will be a great recommendation to you. Looking at what you have done, I should say there was no fear: but ill-luck has so pursued one in these matters, one knows not what to think. Nay when you have done your best, stand resolutely up, and say to yourself, I have done it, ich kann nicht anders [I cannot do otherwise].4

But by this time dear Brother I suppose you are getting wiser as to the true charms of a Life of Literature, and looking with some earnestness for a deliverance into your profession. God send it! But in the meanwhile, Patience! Perseverance! unwearied Diligence! Man has not and cannot have other armour, stand where he may. [I] read your Demonology and a Paper on St J. Long, the only thing by you in that [al]most quite despicable Magazine.5 Will you tell me Jack how you have lived, or where you get money, my poor Boy? In this Magazine I see scarcely £15 worth. Above all, how did you get me £30, when for all they have yet printed, I could scarcely claim the half of that? Explain, Explain dear Brother, that I may see where both of us are standing.— Certainly that Fraser's Magazine gives the most scurvy remuneration of any Periodical extant, and shall have no more stuff of mine at that rate, barring worse fortune than I have yet seen. Solid well-thought writing such as yours for example will not yield a man existence. “Come out of her my Brethren, come out of her!”6 It is also a frothy, washy, punchy [flabby], dirty kind of Periodical, I fear: “Come out of her”—and altogether out of that craft, thou that canst.

But I have a serious commission for you (trouble, as usual) grounded on these facts. Will you go to Fraser and get from him by all means my long Paper entitled Thoughts on Clothes:7 I would not for above half a dozen reasons have it appear there so long as I have potatoes to eat. Get it from him, unless it is absolutely printed: the rest he can keep, they will surely pay him: but of this (in addition to the above reasons) I have taken a notion that I can make rather a good Book of it, and one above all likely to produce some desirable impression on the world even now. Do thou get it, my dear Jack, read it well over thyself, and then say what thou thinkest. I can devise some more Biography for Teufelsdreck; give a second deeper part, in the same vein, leading thro' Religion and the nature of Society, and Lord knows what. Nay that very ‘Thoughts,’ slightly altered wd itself make a little volume first (which would encourage me immensely) could one find any Bookseller, which however I suppose one cannot. Whether it were worth while to show Fraser the Manuscript (for I think he has not read it) and take counsel with him; or still rather to show Edward Irving it (whose friendliness and feeling of the True, widely as it differs from him, I know) do thou judge. I fear perfect anonymity is now out of the question; however swear every one to secrecy, for I mean to speak fearlessly if at all. Basta! Basta! [Enough! Enough!]—I have taken up the whole blessed sheet, and not one word of news. We are well; Alick and his spouse do bravely, he seems fully happier than his wont. They two were at Scotsbrig last week, and brought up favourable reports of all—except our Father who had heedlessly caught cold, and was ‘no better hardly’ last wednesday, when Jean wrote us. They had got your letter but did not send it. They are in great spirit for reading Newspapers, and joy over the Examiner. M'Diarmid is the Dud of Duds. They can ‘meet him,’ impudently8 yet with a struggle: what is to come [to] Alick whether to flit or not is still in the womb of Time; who brings Roses,9 and also Thistles. Let us us [sic] be thankful and submissive & love one another

T. Carlyle

Can you tell me anything about who the Conductors of the Examiner are?10 The head one is a fine figurative fellow, devoid of belief, yet not incapable (if under 45) of receiving such. They spoke lately of the St Simonians (whom I love and pity and dissent from):11 I had positive thoughts of sending up my Ms. Translation to him (the ‘Conductor’), and requesting him to find a Publisher for it. I clearly think it might do good, especially in these days. I expected no profit. Tell me what you think. I suppose you know no Bookseller (I meant it as a Pamphlet, which it is in the original, not an ‘Article’). Had I any money, I would have a look at London soon, and see what I could see. Wait till my Book is done, then will I come up with it!

Can you tell me what is becoming of Charlie Buller? He voted for Wellington (filling us with weender!12): what is he meaning now. Say, when you see him, that I have still a fatherly remembrance of Arthur and him, and hope much of them.— Is not Maginn13 a good-natured good-for-little? He has fun, no humour; and talks horribly of drink[.]

The Lord Advocate sends us his first frank: they tore his garments at Forfar, and ‘rubbed’ him, that is, hustled. The scandalous dogs: the worthiest public man in all broad Scotland.—14 O Jack! Jack! be steady, be manful: the Devil is busy, but he is not omnipotent—

Cruthers and Johnson is a dud, a palpable dud; but too good for the place it stands in.15 Thank Fraser for his Spectator, I do like him— I have not paid your Dumfries Tailor, but will take charge of it: by rigorous care we may hold out till Macvey come, and then— I meanwhile writing at my BOOK!

Can you get me a Schiller's Life (for 2/6) from my Bookseller, Taylor of Gower-street? I rather want one.

William Graham is not at Burnswark; we hear it surmised that his affairs are again wrong or going wrong: poor, worthy man!

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