October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO ARCHIBALD GLEN; 19 October 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18331019-TC-AG-01; CL 7:18-20.


Craigenputtoch, 19th October, 1833—

My Dear Sir,

The answer to your interesting Letter1 has been delayed far too long; partly by accidents which I grudged not a little. Pray understand, at all events, that anything rather than indifference to the subject of it was the cause.

I am generally one of the worst Travellers; hardly ever stirring from home without more or less derangement of health: at this time too I am rather specially anxious not to move till I have finished a little thing begun lately. Beyond doubt, nevertheless, if it became plain or probable that my presence with you could in the smallest contribute to such an object, there were an end to hesitation, were the journey three times as far. However, after some consideration, a second course has suggested itself; whereby perhaps the business may be managed still more effectually.

You remember, we had some talk, before Austin was spoken of, of your bringing William down hither for a few days. Now it seems to me if you did so still, there were probably some labour saved, and certainly a far better opportunity given us of deciding with full knowledge. We see him on the ground, in the very circumstances we propose to place him in; and judge by actual trial how he will behave. If it will not answer, this failure were less grievous than any other we could risk. You observe too that if we should determine at Glasgow in opposition to the Doctors, the very journey I am recommending would be required; and in that case mine will have proved unnecessary.

The Austins have got their house cieled [sic] and put in order, and are ready at any time.2 The little articles of furniture we spoke of can (as Peter tells me) be dispensed with, or supplied otherwise, for a time; and then, if need were, could be sent best by yourself after your return. But at any rate you would first bring poor William hither for a day or two; that we might judge whether it was good to take him farther. I know not what difficulties there may be about getting him out of the Asylum; and then (if we were forced to that) about getting him in again: but I rather think, unless they are considerable, you ought to encounter them. It were well too perhaps to ask him in distinct terms what he himself thinks of coming to see us, of living beside us: it gave me some hope to find that he had still a morality left, and would not promise what he did not mean to perform. Finally if this plan of mine seem suitable, let me know what day you are to come (remembering that Wednesday is our only Post-day,—Tuesday, I fancy, with you); and I will wait for you at Dunscore with the gig; and this roof shall screen us all once more. My Wife votes also for this plan: she thanks you for your remembrances; and can I believe quite honestly assure you of a no ordinary interest. We both continue to bid you hope, in this, as in all things; and are truly gratified to recollect the truthful, modest, manful front you can make against whatsoever may betide. On this subject I could say more, but do not. Pray look on us not as new acquaintances but as old friends.

Those French sheets are of the utmost confusion; yet one cannot say how much insanity they betoken. The thin film, which for any of us separates Hallucination from Reality, is here rent asunder; and on poor William the vague Infinite storms in, and chaotically shapes itself. I know almost nothing of these matters; and for him I have only one sure hope; this one, that I knew him to be at heart a good man, and that Goodness in all circumstances tends towards health [and away from] malady. I long much to see him.

In the Asylum I think I gather from you that he shows no visible tendency towards cure. This is a strong argument for trying something else, if anything else can be tried. Do not despair. There is a Literary man now living, one Loyd3 (a man of considerable genius) who spent five years in a madhouse, and came out sane. With William too I rather incline to augur, at best, delay.

It once partly seemed to me that perhaps Spring, when the Country, even this wild part of it, begins to get beautiful and hopeful, might be the best time for a removal: but I bethink me of a possibility that we may be absent after Whitsunday. This I call a possibility; tho' the chances are rather the other way.

I add only that if you cannot come as I advise, and still wish to see me, I will set out without delay.

[Closing sentence with signature cut away]