October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE THE ELDER; 13 December 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18311213-TC-JCE-01; CL 6:63-65.


4. Ampton Street, Mecklenburg Square / London, 13th December 1831—

My Dear Father,

I have long proposed to myself the pleasure of writing you a Letter; and must now do it much more hurriedly than I could have wished. I did not mean to undertake it all till next week; for at present I am engaged every moment against Time, finishing an Article for the Edinburgh Review, and can expect no respite till after Saturday night: however, our Lord Advocate having called today, and furnished me with a frank to carry Jack's Roman Epistle, I embrace the opportunity, lest none so good occur afterwards. Half of my day's task is done; the good wife is even now making the tea: so I will scribble you a few lines, and try to make up my leeway before bedtime.

Alick informed me in general about ten days ago that you were “all well”; in the last Newspaper stood a word from Jane that she “would write soon”: I can only pray that she would do so; and hope in the mean time that she may have no worse news to tell me. This weather is very unhealthy, the worst of the whole year; I often think how my Mother and you are getting on under it. I hope, at least, you take every care, and do not needlessly or needfully expose yourself: it is bad policy to brave the weather, especially for you, at this season. I pray you, keep much within doors; beware of Cold especially of damp feet: a cup of tea, night and morning, I should also think a good preventive. But perhaps Jane will still be able to inform me that “all is well”; one of the blessings I ought to be most thankful for, as it is among the most precious for me.

We are struggling forward here, as well as we can. My health is not worse than it was wont to be; I think I am even clearer and fresher than when you saw me last. Jane has been complaining somewhat; but is not regularly sick: her cold has left her, and now she has a little occasional cough, with weakliness; the like of which is very prevalent here at present. George Irving has been attempting to prescribe for her; she even let him draw a little blood: I rather think, however, that her faith in Physicians is somewhat on a level with my own; that she will give them no more of her blood; but trust to exercise, diet, and the return of settled weather.

I cannot get on with the publishing of my Book; nobody will so much as look at a thing of the sort, till this Reform Business be done. Nay, I begin to doubt whether I shall at all during this present posture of affairs, get my Speculation put into print. There is only a limited time that I will consent to wait looking after it; if they do not want it, why then let them leave it alone. Either way will do for me; I only want to know which. Meanwhile I am making what little attempts about it seem prudent: if I altogether fail here, I may still have Edinburgh to try in. One way or other, I wish to be at the end of it, and will be so.— Our Advocate, who is now quite recovered again, and as brisk as a bee would fain do something useful for me, find me some Place or other that would keep me here: I know he has spoken of me to Chancellors and Secretarys of State, and would take all manner of pains: nevertheless I compute simply that the result of it all will be Nothing; and I still look back to my whinstone fortress among the mountains as the stronghold wherefrom I am to defy the world. I have applications enough for writing, some of them new since I came hither: so long as I can wag the pen, there is no fear of me. I also incline to think that something might and perhaps should be done by such as me in the way of Lecturing: but not at this time, not under these circumstances. We will wait; and if so seem good, try it again. On the whole I always return to this: As the great Guide orders, so be it! While I can say His will be mine, there is no power in Earth or out of it that can put me to fear.

I could describe our way of Life here, which is very simple, had I room. Plenty of people come about us; we go little out to anything like parties, never to dinners; or anywhere willingly except for profit. I transact sometimes immense quantities of talk; indeed often talk more than I listen,—which Course I think of altering. It is and continues a wild wondrous chaotic den of Discords this London: I am often wae [deeply sad] and awestruck at once to wander along its crowded streets, and see and hear the roaring torrent of men and animals and carriages and waggons,—all rushing they know not whence, they know not whither! Nevertheless there is a deep, divine meaning in it; and God is in the midst of it, had we but eyes to see.— Towards two o'clock I am about laying down my pen; to walk till as near dinner (at four) as I like: then comes usually resting stretched on the sofa, with such small talk as may be going till tea; after which, unless some interloper drop in (as happens fully oftener than not) I again open my desk, and work till bedtime about eleven. I have had a tough struggle indeed with this Paper; but my hand is now in again, and I am doing better.— Charles Buller comes now and then about us; a fine honest fellow, among the best we see. There is also one Glen (a young unhewed philosopher, a friend of Jack's), and one Mill, a young hewed philosopher and partial disciple of mine: both great favourites here. W. Grahame of Burnswark was in our neighbourhood for three weeks; and will be arriving in Glasgow again about this very night, unless he have struck in by Ecclefechan and home. He is busy with some American patents and so forth; from which he is sure of a salary for one year, but I think scarcely of anything more. The American Consulship, of which he hoped much, has gone another road. He is fresh and healthy, and I hope will fall in with something.— Irving does not come much here; only once since that gift-of-tongue work began, and we have not been even once with him. It was last week that he called. He looked hollow and haggard; thin, greywhiskered, almost an old man: yet he was composed and affectionate and patient: I could almost have wept over him, and did tell him my mind with all plainness. It seems likely they will take his Church from him, and then difficulties of all sorts may multiply on him: but I do not think he will altogether lose his wits, at least not so as to land in Bedlam; and perhaps he may yet see his way thro' all this, and leave it all behind him. God grant it be so!— I have hardly another scrap of room here: I must scrawl my Mother a line; and then bid you all goodnight. I remain always (My dear Fathe[r) Your] Affectionate Son—

T. Carlyle—