candlestick

October 1831-September 1833


The Collected Letters, Volume 6


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TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 17 May 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330517-TC-JAC-01; CL 6:384-390.


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE

Templand, Thornhill, 17th May, 1833—

My Dear Brother,

If you arrive as you anticipated, at Paris on the 20th, this Letter again will be too late. A consummation which I have striven honestly to prevent; but, as you see, and shall hear, without effect. Excuse this limited size of paper too; for at present I am in the transition-state, and divided from my tools. On Tuesday morning gone a week, our places were all secured in the Thornhill Coach, the baggage happily despatched the week before: but by the foolishest misunderstanding we found on reaching the North Bridge at half past six, that the Coach was gone—three minutes ago! There was nothing for it, but wearisomely waiting two days longer; to which painful side of the alternative we reconciled ourselves the best way possible; lying literally hidden, unknown to all our friends except two; scarcely stirring out except at nightfall, and then very much with the feeling of révenans [ghosts].

I bathed twice in the Forth; read a Life of Paul Jones,1 pieces of Sir George M'Kenzie,2 and meditated about enough of things. One incident that most of all reconciled me to the disappointment was the arrival (some two hours after our return) of your Florence Letter, which otherwise we must have waited for, and run the risk of losing, for it had already been at Dumfries, and might not, without hesitation, have been sent back. I determined to write forthwith; yet not till I had seen the Scotsbrig people, and could tell you a positive tale. Well on Thursday we did all happily get off, and, after a stifling stew of nine dusty hours, were set down at Glendinning's,3 all alive, but Jane utterly sick, hardly able to move hither in any fashion, and seized, as it soon appeared, with this universal Influenza, which has held her in confinement, generally in bed, ever since. We sent the maid over to Craigenputtoch, but no one else has yet been over there. It was Monday morning (for Mrs Welsh too had taken the Influenza) before I could get off for Scotsbrig; writing there I found impossible (for want of time, and even of paper); and it was only yesternight that I returned. Happily, however, after this tedious preamble, I am enabled to inform you that all is quite well in Annandale, that all in Nithsdale is improving and hopeful; and so in the end your heart is set at rest.

The Monday when I set off with Harry and the Gig was a quite beautiful day, and every thing that occurred was of a kind to render thanks for. After the meekest of drives, down AE4 water and the rest of them, Catlinns house, whitewashed and hospitable, rose on me over White-Ween Hass5 about 3 o'oclock [sic]; and in a few minutes more Alick, hastening home from his potatoe ground, had his tea-table covered for me, and question and answer was in full progress. He approves himself a most shifty judicious husbandman on that bare field; pays his rent, goes resolutely on, with none save the humblest hopes; and really, in all senses, seems to be doing well. His little girl is quite a beauty of a child, with which in his own way he makes infinite diversion; she more than anything else reconciles him to his home, and his task; and so he fights his battle, and makes himself ever the readier to fight it, or fight a better one. He reyoked me, drove me on to Banks Hill; where meeting Jamie Austin, with carts coming to help him, he turned and bade me good-b'ye till the morrow evening. At Scotsbrig they had heard my wheels in time; my Mother was running out to meet as of old; I could thank God that here too I found everything well. Our Mother seems better rather than worse in bodily health; seems patient, contented, even cheerful. The rest of them seem to go on quite tolerably; all in good agreement, in good heart, and proper behaviour. Jamie, especially when he gets into the biographic department, is very clever and amusing. There was seldom such a crop seen as last all over Scotland, at Scotsbrig especially: so, tho' wages and prices are low, they contrive to make the two meet, and have no complaint to make. Indeed in Annandale one sees far less of that “Foreshadow of RUIN,” which seems to envelope our devoted sinful and miserable Isle, than in most other quarters I have examined. The great continual emigration to America keeps our Country from taking fire. To finish off several things, I must mention that I had to read your Letter over twice; that there was but one feeling among men women and children, the feeling of joy at your prosperity and speedily expected return. The “guinea” had been given to old Pool,6 now very frail; I became bound for it, but they would not have the payment. Our Mother, in addition to her best blessing, charged me to mention that she had sent many times to the Post-office, in hope of that Letter you “would perhaps write,” and with great regret at finding none. They desired to be instantaneously apprised of your arrival on British ground. This must conclude my Scotsbrig budget.

Edward Irving had preached in “Graham's park” in the Langlands, and excited a very great sensation. Little of him since has transpired; he is said to be expected back ere long. But what will shock you not a little is perhaps still to be told: the death of poor George, his Brother! It stands announced in last week's Courier; I had heard before that he was dangerously ill, of inflammation of the lungs; but could learn nothing positive till Graham of Burnswark, on Tuesday evening, told me the fatal issue. Poor good George! I have lamented much over him, and shall lament much: I see still his tall figure coming up from the New Road yonder, and must now fancy him forever motionless in a London Churchyard.7 Such too is our tenure of existence here: let us be wise while it is called Today. The Irving family are indeed no longer what they were: the children scattered abroad, in death, or in various difficulty; the Father taken away; the Mother (as I hear) fallen into dotage, and sheltered with her daughter Elizabeth somewhere in Lancashire.—— I have mentioned Graham in this paragraph. Let me add only that we saw him for the first time six weeks ago in Edinr; that he is now re-settled at Burnswark, at least for the summer; done with his American; for the rest well and cheerful; accepts your apology,8 and zealously desires to hear news of you face to face. James Johnston (Targer) also came to see us, from Haddington, a few weeks ago: he has grown bald, has had much sickness in his family; otherwise looks and talks and acts with the same honest composure as of old. He too was very friendly in his inquiries for you[.]

As to ourselves, I must now mention in the first place that the £140 you spoke of9 had not come to the Commercial Bank yesterday; so if there is any danger of mischance, look to it. This forms almost all my business; the rest is speculation. I left Edinr with the grieved heart customary to me on visits thither; a wretched infidel place; not one man that could forward you cooperate with you in any useful thing; scarcely one I could find (except Sir W. Hamilton) that could speak a sincere word. The deep ignorance in which even ingenious people live, such as Gordon, Aird and the like, is almost inconceivable; never did the wretched spêw (spue) of Blackwoodism, on which these people nourish themselves, seem so wholly detestable. But as old Grange said, “they can di the' neither ill na good.”10 Peace be with them, and furtherance to whatever good they aim at! I bought several Books in Edinr; carried back with me materials enough for reflexion, the very contradictions, even unjust ones, you meet with are elements of new progress. My presence there was honoured with many a kind civility too; was publickly acknowledged by a kind of Lampoon,11 laudativo-vituperative (as it ought to be) by one Brown Editor of a Newspaper,12 whom I have known only at a distance, and as a blustering Bubbly jock [turkey gobbler], much given to fabrication. On the other hand, I relieved Professor Wilson from the necessity of fabricating any more in my behalf, by decidedly cutting him the day before we left town. I was quite wearied with the man, his deep desire to be familiar with me, his numerous evasions to meet me, his lies to excuse these; and so, in mere christian charity, brought it to an end. My feelings to him remain, I hope, unchanged, as much as I can make them: admiration for a very superior talent, for many gleams of worth and generosity; contempt, pity for his cowardice, for his want of spiritual basis, which renders all his force a self-destructive one, properly no force at all. Thus did I finish off with Edinr, not in the most balsamic fashion. If I go back, it shall be at worst with indifference; and at best, I doubt, with little more. And now here once more are we, stranded again on the wold (where we hope to be next monday) with intent to pass another summer there. We are not out of funds; we are free from debt, have liberty to live and let live. A Paper on Diderot was printed about a month ago; character not known. Fraser has just sent me Proofs of a Cagliostro, one of the most distorted bad things (not to be false) I ever wrote; probably the last in that style. These two worth near £100, the payment of which I reckon sure, form my present disposable capital. My chief project for the summer is to cut Teufelsdreck into slips, and have it printed in Fraser's Magazine: I have not proposed it to him yet, and must go warily to work in that, for I have spoiled such things already by want of diplomacy. It will be worth almost £200 to me that way, and I shall get rid of it, which otherwise there is little hope of to any purpose and without great loss; the Book-trade being still dead,—and as I reckon forever. I have much reading too, much thinking; prospects of more society than last year: so we shall wait in a kind of rest. “Halte still und seh' Dich um [stop and look around]”: that is every way my posture at present. Outwardly and inwardly a kind of closing of the First Act goes on with me; the second as yet quite unopened. The world is fast changing, the ways and wants and duties of the world; I myself am also or ought to be changing: there must be a readjustment. On the whole, Doctor, when I consider it, there is no portion of my environment that so cheers me, as the outlook on thy side. Yes truly, my brave Jack, I begin to feel that thou art my Brother. These sentiments, that manner of proceeding and determining are ganz aus meiner Seele [straight from my own soul]: I feel myself very rich that I have such a Brother, that I shall not be alone in this so lonely world. All good and manful things are now not so much to [be] prophecied of you (this I always have done) as discerned in you in clear promise. Yes, my Boy, give thanks to God that by dark ways He has led thee into light. We will front the world together, “knowing it, despising it, loving it, cheerfully holding on our way thro' it, our eye on higher loadstars.”13 Thank God that it can be so! And now I will give you leave to become I say not one of the most famous, but one of the best Physicians in all the British Isle, and so to play a man's part in God's world[.]

The fag-end of this poor sheet (my ink and furniture everyway are wholly pitiable) must be employed in settling about London addresses. You will find Holcroft in 13. Bartlett's Buildings, Holborn, and from him, or at the Athenaeum learn Badams's address, whom pray neglect not to see. Mill (John Mill) is every day till 4 o'clock at the India House, very near where poor Strachey used to be: every one knows him. I will give warning of your approach. Glenn I have quite lost; I enclosed him a Letter, but Mill could not make him out; I advised a trial at Lincoln's Inn; do not miss him. Irving, I believe, lives too in Newman Street Oxford Street. William Fraser Mill can tell you of. This is all that I can think of for London.—— With regard to Paris I should have much to ask; but what room is there? I have read a good deal about the new French people within this year, their old Revolution, &c &c: a most mixed business. The Trial of the St. Simonians, read since I came hither, exceedingly amazes me; interests me for it is a fact.14 Poor Gustave will recover yet. Adolphe d'Eichthal you will see, and remember me to; I heard of him kindly in Edinr. Seek out the Place de la Révolution (guillotining place) local of the Jacobins, of the Feuillans, of the Convention &c[.] (And now turn)

I fancy this will be in Paris before Whitsunday.15 May it find you safe, waiting to receive it. We shall soon hear from you in reply, and then the next news, if all prosper, is that you are in England!— Your ulterior prospect of another year abroad will will [sic] deserve considering, and perhaps even accepting; but, if it please God, we shall have met before that. As my Mother says, “we still join trembling with our hope.” In June then!— And for the present, God bless you, dear Brother! Ever yours,

T. Carlyle—

Jane thankfully and not without hope accepts your offer of Physicianship; I myself am of opinion that you will do her good. She is much weakened with this Influenza, and may not have her strength again for weeks. A cough too still lingers, loth to leave.

Waugh is perhaps scarcely worth writing to. I have never seen him since the sorrowful occasion when we had to consult him as physician; but understand him to be still with Aunt Marion, croupissant dans la boue [putrefying in the mud], and—studying the Prophecies. None of which can prophecy good for him.

Tom Grahame (Advocate)16 is said to be for America, with his Brother and Sister. Dr Arbuckle the younger17 sometimes saw us in Edinr, where he seems to be attempting settlement. His Brother in Liverpool continues to hope, and is even beginning to realize.

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