January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 7 July 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310707-TC-JAC-01; CL 5:295-300.


Craigenputtoch, 7th July, 1831—

My Dear Jack,

I received your kind and satisfactory Letter;1 and am now (in the most hurried manner for I really have no time but what I steal) about to send you a two-pence worth of news in return. The Advocate writes me last night, that you are “very reasonable and practicable”; and seems to have good hopes himself, of a reasonable and practicable sort; only “we must have patience.” I will thank him from my heart, to-night on the Cover of this. Help towards work I would solicit from any reasonable man: mere pecuniary help (for its own sake) is a thing one should always be in the highest degree cautious of accepting. Few are worthy to give it; still fewer capable of worthily receiving it: such is the way of the time we live in.

Were it attainable, I would very greatly prefer seeing you settled to practice, under any tolerable auspices, to travelling as a Doctor: tho' this too were much preferable to your present condition. On the [whole he] who has no situation ought thankfully to accept any, whether travelling or stationary. I have some considerable trust that the Advocate, who is a practical man, and whose benevolent dispositions you do not exaggerate, will be able to give you something like a lift. Meanwhile, relax not your own efforts for a moment: ‘think project, investigate[’]: you are like a soul struggling towards birth; the skilfullest Accoucheur (pardon the horrible figure) can but help the process. Here too the Cesarean Operation, as I have seen, is oftenest fatal to the foetus. In short, Jack there lie the rudiments of a most sufficient Man and Doctor in thee; but wise WILL must first body them forth. Oh I know the thrice-cursed state you are in: hopeless, grim, death-defying thoughts; a world shut against you by inexpugnable walls. Rough it out, toil it out; other way of making a man have I never seen: one day, you will see it all to have been needed, and your highest, properly your only blessing.— Write me that other “practical Letter,” when you “have done something.” Write me deliberately considerately: you will find an excellent exercise for yourself too.

I must not take in all your encomiums about my scriptorial genius: nevertheless I am coming up to look about me, and if possible even to establish myself in London. This place is as good as done: not even the last advantage, that of living in any pecuniary sufficiency, for I never was as poor. Naso the Blockhead has neither paid nor written to me:2 so that your thirty Pounds, and nineteen for the horse Madge has spun itself out hitherto. We are in no strait; I shall even raise the wind3 for a London voyage without much difficulty: I can write to Naso, if he will not to me. I have some thought of cutting him and his calcined caput-mortuary dead men's ashes of Whiggism at any rate. But fair and soft!

You speak of the “middle of July”: surely the world will not leave London, while Parliament is sitting. Ascertain what is the last four or five weeks that I can expect to have of it. Not till that world-renowned Reform Bill, whole Bill and Nothing but Bill is done at any rate. I now see thro Teufel., write at him literally night and day; yet cannot be done within, say, fifteen days. Then I should like to have a week's rest, for I am somewhat in the imflammatory vein. London would quite put me off my eggs: I should have hatched here, and only come thither with the chickens. As to the Teufk itself, whereof 122 solid pages lie written off, and some forty, above half ready are to follow, I cannot pretend to prophecy: my humour is of the Stoical sort as concerns it. Sometimes I think it goodish, at othertimes bad; at most times, the best I can make it here. A strange Book all men will admit it to be: partially intended to be a True Book I know it to be. Nous verrons [we shall see]. It shall be printed, if there is a possibility.— You anticipate me in the suggestion of Lodgings. There must I live [torn] and nowhere as a Guest: Dreytägiger Gast wird eine Last [a guest for three days becomes a burden]. Hav[e] you no little Bedroom even where you are, and one little parlour would serve us both? I care about nothing but a Bed where I can sleep in, that is to say, where are no Bugs and no noises about midnight, for I am pretty invincible when once fairly sealed. The horrors of nerves are somewhat laid in me, I think: yet the memory of them is frightfully vivid. For the rest, my Mission in London is Anti-gigmanic from heart to skin. If you have a bedroom, do not change for me.

Your idea about the Seal was quite mine; and glad I am that you told me what course it was taking. I despatched a most earnest emphatic Letter to Fraser,4 by my very earliest chance (his “Drawing” never came), which would reach him on Monday, desecrating those miserable gingerbread appendages; explaining by diagram, and utmost power of language, that only a Star and Serpent, with the words ON the latter could be tolerated: if not they must be on a Ring. You say: Siegel liegt fast fertig [the Seal is almost ready]: pray Heaven I have not been too late; and that wretched Stümperei [botched job] go to Weimar to shame us and England!5 Will you see into it: I fancy it must have been the Lapidary6 himself, not Fraser.— The ‘Books by Lieutenant Barker’ are probably already with you by his uncle Major Johnston: Barker was countermanded, while the Parcel lay for him at Dumfries. Add the Nibelungen, (and Schiller and the Thts on History if they look tolerably). Taylor also must go.7 I will tell you about it farther. It were well to get the Letter ready perhaps. Poor Fraser is “most dilatarious” [sic].— The venerable Alter [Old Man]8 sends me, ten days ago, the noblest Letter I ever read: scarcely could I read it without tears. Let me die the death of the Righteous, let my last end be like his! Goethe is well and serene: another Box on the way hither.

Alick returned from Scotsbrig last night, where he had been for a week. We expected my Mother; but it proved to be their Sacrament: they were all well. I must run down, before I come off. But poor Harry is still unfit for riding: he too has had Inflammation of the Lungs, and Alick and I doctored him secundum artem [in a professional manner] by bleed purgation, starvation and blisters: his blisters are now his only ailment.— We all salute you!

T. C.

Mrs Montagu (last night) writes dreadful tidings about Badams: how he is killing himself with brandy and laudanum; how he has “defrauded” &c I will write him a little line this night[;] it will go to 7 Lancaster Place, if wrong, rectify it.9 I fear all is not sound with him: he will be found to have exaggerated, otherwise, falsified. Were he going to the Gallows, I would step up to him, and say, One heart feels for thee.

I have read your Alchemy, and think it the best I have seen of you: too good for that soap-froth of a Magazine.10 Nevertheless it is even amusing to read

I hear nothing of Grahame: have I any chance to find him in Liverpool?— I wrote to Irving three weeks ago, a little Note, about his General Assembly expulsion.11 Pity he were a Morning-Watcher!12

David Aitken is a Candidate for the Church History Chair (as you will notice), and asked me apply to the Advocate,—which I felt obliged to postpone. He were better than Lee13 and that is all I know

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