October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO ARCHIBALD GLEN; 15 August 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330815-TC-AG-01; CL 6:421-423.


Scotsbrig, 15th August, 1833—

My Dear Sir,

As I may well say that few Letters could have interested me more than yours and Dr Cumin's did,1 it seems very strange I should have so loitered with my answer. The truth is I was called from home almost next day, and have been much driven about ever since; till at length tho' the matter lay reproachfully on my mind, I had half taken refuge in the sluggard plea that as we should soon see yourself in Galloway, it was not indispensable that I should write at all. Your second Letter,2 which waited me yesterday on my way hither, brings me to better recollection. I beg of you to accept this confession with forgivenness; to believe that my neglect was apparent only. Will you also in no wise neglect to offer Dr Cumin my best thanks for his lucid, friendly, judicious Letter, which brought the whole melancholy case as it were quite before my eyes.

My Brother and I have of course talked many times of our poor Friend's situation: John leaves us tomorrow morning again for Italy, and felt too hurried I believe (by this rather sudden recall) for a journey to Glasgow, where in any case, as he has often said, there seemed nothing to be done, nothing to be amended. He will write you what he thinks, at the end of this sheet.

As for myself, tho' Dr Cumin's description gives me the clearest view of poor William's case, I can form no prediction of it that were grounded upon any basis. The condition is the sadder to me, as it seems simply the continuation and confirmation of much that I saw and strove against in William's character before. He was one of the proudest men I ever knew. His Pride truly was tempered with a noble affectionateness, and reverence for what was really high; so I still hoped the better element might prevail: but, alas, it has for the present been the worse. Who knows, however, as I always say, but it may be thro' this darkest of passages that he was appointed to be led into light; by this deep Humiliation that the devil's-spirit of Pride was finally to be cast out of him! He is still young and strong, still far on this side the turn of life; there is much in the power of Time, and man's existence to the last close of it is founded upon Hope. We will still hope. One other thing only seems evident to me, that in point of management and medical aid, our good William may be reckoned fortunate; perhaps better where he is than in one of a hundred places elsewhere.

But on the whole, before any new arrangement is made, shall I not see you, as you almost engaged, at Craigenputtoch? We are but some seven or eight miles from your native Parton; not two miles from one road that leads from Glasgow thither. We are to be at home very closely henceforth; and shall in all sincerity feel much satisfied if you will come. We can talk the whole business thro' and thro' there; and understand it better than by innumerable Letters. Mrs C. also counts upon you.—

I remain always (Dear Sir) / Yours most truly / T. Carlyle3