January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 18 August 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310818-TC-AC-01; CL 5:342-344.


6. Woburn Buildings, Tavistock Square / London, 18th August, 1831—

My Dear Alick,

I write you a syllable or two merely to say that I still think of you; for doubtless the body of my news is already known to you thro' Jane. I trust my Mother also knows all about me.

Your Crop seems to have been very handsomely sold: so let us hope you may get all your Craigenputtoch affairs cleared off better than once seemed probable.

I have but a few moments, and must send you what little tidings I have about Jack. His position here is much as I fancied it: very questionable, yet not without possibilities of ultimate success even here. His worst fault, indeed almost only one, is procrastination. In general character, in appearance of medical skill he has considerably improved: my impression even is very distinctly that he might make a quite superior Practitioner. But he needs to be stirred up: daily there should be some one at his hand to say Arise! let the “work of the day” be carried on!— So long as I am here he can look for little rest.

By my instigation he wrote off to Birmingham (where one of the chief Doctors is thought to be dying): an answer has now come, not very inviting; and just as we are meditating what to do next, there arises a quite new prospect. Namely, a certain Dr Baron of Gloucester, of whom I know a very little, to whom the Advocate1 had been speaking of Jack, is applied to by the Countess of Clare2 (an Irish lady of rank and wealth) for a Travelling Physician to go to Italy for a year. He mentions Jack, who is accordingly summoned to the West End of this “noble City”; finds her Ladyship; talks to her (as he thinks, acceptably); and is then informed that ‘she has been speaking to another Medical gentleman, and will write if she do not engage with him in a day or two.’ I think we shall actually hear something of her: but as yet nothing has come.

For my own share I do not greatly covet this situation: except that it brings some money to a moneyless man, it is distinctly disadvantageous. I counsel him therefore to demand at lowest £300 a year; and not to leave the country at all (even for a month) under £100. What will come of it all I know not but you shall hear. Perhaps a week or so will decide it. I may mention also another advantage besides the money: one friend among the quality circles here is considered a very great point for a medical man settling in London, as I should like well to see Jack do, were it otherwise possible— Irving is decided that he should continue here, and try it to the uttermost; never was surer of any man's success &c &c[.] So talks W. Hamilton also: indeed I incline to that view myself, had the man any course open for him. You can tell my Mother that Irving farther (who should be a judge) speaks highly of Jack's religious character; and appears everyway to think very well of him.—

As I know not whether you are still at Craigenputtoch and wished [letter torn away at this point] female world.— My book is taking its own course, if I look not to it: the ‘trade’ is said to be at the lowest ebb &c; but all that does not discourage me a whit.— Enough now: farewell my dear Brother for the present, and God bless you!

Ever your's, /

T. Carlyle

Write me a line by Jane: it is all one expense, when we have a frank.