January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 18 April 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310418-TC-JAC-01; CL 5:262-264.


Craigenputtoch, Monday 19[18]th April [1831]

My Dear Brother,

We have a visiter here today (a Miss Scott1 from Haddington) who is for Dumfries this evening; whereby I have an opportunity of scribbling you a word, which I could not do on Saturday, as I intended. Whether this will be really worth twopence seems doubtful; I have no paper, no composure, no anything: however it will assure of our continued affection, and welfare. So I scribble.

Your short Letter of Wednesday last (the Moniaive Carrier had not called) was very gratifying to me.2 Happy that you have yet done nothing; that you will do nothing without due deliberation. This is exactly what I want. Consider, think, my dear Brother; let no false show deceive you; act not till you feel your feet firm on the rock: then act what you see to be best. I can nowise prescribe for you, such a dimness still hangs over your whole environment: but I bid you, and entreat you, consider calmly, and let practical Truth not shadowy fallacious Hope compute the account for you; above all, do not shrink from a little present pain at the cost of a future far greater. A man that feels he is right can suffer and encounter all, he is stronger than King's hosts; a man that doubts he is not right has properly speaking no strength whatever. Act wisely, my dear Jack, and thro' good fortune or thro' bad thro' worst, I will ever love you and be proud of you.—— Your patience under my Letter is worthy of all praise.

From Jeffrey, whom I entreated if possible to find some employment for you, or otherwise really to help you, I hear as yet nothing. Indeed, ever since his arrival in London, his Letters, exclusively addressed to Jane, have had a very tumultuous frothy whirlpoolish character: I fear the St Stephens scene will do him no good; gyrating so rapidly round the Chancellor's finger, a pretty little gem may acquire centrifugal velocity in excess, and fly away or in pieces. You need not doubt his wish to help you, his readiness, to great lengths, if he saw the means. I pray that it may be for good; pray with my whole soul. You are of unspeakable value to me; for I have always hoped, and of late with more and more certainty, that you would be yourself, and Brother to me in all senses. God guide you, my dear Brother, and turn everything for the best!— You may judge whether I long to hear of you.

Had I known Badams's address, I would have written him my sympathies in these trying days. Do whatever lies in your ability: we have both a good right; you only the privilege. I am greatly flattered and comforted that he so trusts in you. Assure him of my unabated regards and gratitude; he did more for me than he is aware of; helped to illuminate the dark unbelief of my heart, which is infinitely worse than even bodily sickness[.] Say to him that I have a friendship for him, and understa[nd] (what the most have quite forgotten) something of the meaning of that word.

Fraser has consulted you (I suppose) about the scheme of Goethe's Seal.3 It is almost shocking to trouble you in these times with any extraneous business: yet you will have to oversee this (in a quiet way) lest the good Fraser again become “unfortunate.”4 I think we shall do. Nay in any case we can buy a Seal, and have our device cut on it, and send it, we three. I know it will be a real luxury for you to join; and if you have no money to subscribe with (as is too likely) you will let me treat you to that little happiness. At this hour, I believe our stock of ready cash amounts only to the trifling sum of seven shillings; however there is more fast becoming due, no debt pressing (or even existing except mere trifles); and here one can hold out long with a very slender furnishing. Never mind, then: die Zeit bringt Rosen [time brings roses].— I wrote to Fraser under cover to Buller (as I do now) two posts before this, gave him a Bond or Agreement to get signed, and sent copies of it to various others. He had sent a Letter to you, he writes, but it would not find you. Oversee the matter, as you have leisure: feste Muth und frohe Sinn [firm courage and a cheerful mind]!—God ever bless you, dear Brother!

T. Carlyle

All well at Scotsbrig: Alick has lost the Mill, and thinks (we all with him) of living here for another year. Particulars in my next Letter. Teufelsdreck advances steadily (except on a day like this); the third part of him is finally on paper; under good hopes.— Have you twopence-worth? Hardly: but I can give no more.