October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE THE YOUNGER; 30 January 1832; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18320130-TC-JC-01; CL 6:113-115.


London 30th January, 1832.

My Dear James,

Tho' you do not write to me, I know well, it is no want of brotherly affection; but only some half-foolish yet not blameable fear lest you do not write well enough. One day, you will be persuaded to lay that aside; and, just as you can, be it never so imperfectly, come into honest communication with me, like the rest of them.

I have but a few moments of time at present: yet I must address some hurried words to you on this solemn occurrence that has taken place among us: I am your eldest Brother, that have travelled farthest into Life, and mean honestly and lovingly by you. Listen to me honestly and lovingly.

You are now, my dear Brother, in a quite new relation: think deeply, I pray you, of the new Duties it brings with it; summon your whole strength, clear yourself of every sinful obstruction, to discharge these. I might write you volumes of advices, had I room; but they are all comprised in this one advise, if you will understand it well: To think and inquire by all methods what is God's command for you to do; and then with your whole soul, and quickly, do it.—My dear Brother, you may depend upon it, this is a high, infinite concern; not to be discharged lightly, and once for all, but returning on us daily and hourly; and tho' forgotten by most men, yet infinitely miserable for any man to forget. I know something of you; and what worth and faculty, developed or still undeveloped, lies in you: I trust confidently to see you do well, and daily better and better: I shall watch with deepest anxiety to observe whether my prognostics were good.—— A word or two more I will add of a more particular tendency:

You are now, in some sense, the head of the house; you are the man of it, and have in many things to take charge, where you had formerly only to do bidding: Bethink you well of the new Duties this calls for, the new order of thoughts. Consider that above all things the duty of a Steward is to be just: you are not to take a side, and advocate this or that; but you are to judge it, and do justice in it, were it against yourself.

To honour and love and patiently bear with our Father and Mother is commanded by God and Nature: now that we have no Father on Earth, doubly honour and cherish our Mother. Oh be kind to her, kind and grateful, however much it cost you. This is distinctly your most sacred Duty, and mine and every one's. God assist us to discharge it!

Consider that it is man's lot and part to bear and forbear:1 be not astonished if you are habitually called to do so.

This likewise I reckon a golden rule: to speak the Truth, on all occasions, and to all men, with a sacred strictness. You cannot be too strict. Without speaking the truth, how can any one act the Truth; and what is he whose whole Life is one Lie?— Remember the name you are called, and who last bore it. His Life was a Truth, a Courageous Truth: let us all go and do likewise!

I think you ought to make worship in our Father's house, and be the Priest of it (as the man should) in so far as your views will allow. Hypocrisy indeed is a thing I would have you ever avoid and keep far from you. If you cannot pray openly without hypocrisy, without inward constraint, pray in silence, in secret: and at least every Sabbath Evening[.] [I would] have you gather the whole household round you, and devoutly with a devout earnest heart, read to them from the Bible the things that concern their everlasting interests. This I myself practice; and do seriously counsel you regularly to do.—

Oh! my dear Brother, how much more was to be said.— I am interrupted.— Study to be a good man, and live worthy of the na[me] you are called by. God bless you!— I am eve[r your] affectionate, T. Carlyle—