October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO ARCHIBALD GLEN; 18 March 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340318-TC-AG-01; CL 7:114-116.


Craigenputtoch, 18th March, 1834—

My Dear Sir,

Had it not been for some little accident or other, I should have written to you last Wednesday. It is better as it is; for now, in writing, I can also answer your Letter.

We will with great pleasure welcome you at the time you promise: the Gig shall be in waiting at Auldgirth Bridge1 Inn on the 3rd of April; perhaps with myself in it, if I be not too busy. Should you see good to alter your day, give us timely warning (on the preceding Wednesday), and that too shall be well.

You will find William, if still in no clear state of recovery, yet in a tolerable state of progress towards such, or the hope of such. He continues perfectly quiet, one of the most peaceable and manageable of men; satisfied with all that is about him, with all that is done for him; waiting, with none but internal contentions, for “delivery from obscuration,” and the certain knowledge of who he is both “prior to the year 1815” and after it. He has many fluctuations; and so, as I said last time, one can by no means accurately measure his progress: nay once or twice I have noted, at the very time I had been saying he was most decidedly getting better, he came up next night with a larger cargo of crotchets than we had seen in him for weeks. On the whole, however, I do certainly flatter myself his tissue of Delusions is, as it were over its whole texture, getting thinner; a variety of threads and fragments of it he has as good as dropt. We scarcely ever hear of the French Royal Family now, or at worst much more faintly: the Wife too was talked about a few nights ago, and as good as acknowledged to be a mere Shadow. I observe still that there is nothing or little of fixedness in his chimeras; that he takes up one after the other, and (with astonishing ingenuity sometimes) gathers them out of whatsoever he is reading or doing. This, as betokening a certain degree of freedom in the action of his mind, I reckon, in comparison of the other, a favourable symptom. In bodily health he is evidently much improved: nevertheless his whole complaint is now of bodily health; of headaches, pains in the head; which however when you press him about them turn out to be mere “confusion,” “feeling of stupidity,” and such like. He told me one night that he had for the first time these many months “the satisfaction of feeling himself cold”; cold in such a way that a fire would warm him. All these too I reckon symptoms that the sound feeling of the body is returning.

We still see him nightly; and find him insatiable of one thing at least; of Music; which he hums to, with great interest; never, however, “sounding the great note of France.” Our Geometry still goes on, yet with great languour, especially since the good weather began: he evidently takes no interest whatever in it, and only learns a Proposition now and then to please me, excusing himself night after night with his insuperable “obscuration,” such that he “could not learn it tho' you had held a drawn sword over him.” He likes the Homer a little better; but never prepares that either, and hobbles thro' our Lesson as he best can. He has much greater pleasure in what he calls “reflecting,” and wandering about in the spring air; which latter especially is a practice we by all means encourage. I observe he always of late speaks of “Archy” as his Brother; and a very clever Brother Archy is, who “had given him hints” about the wonderfullest things, for example, the other night, about “Egyptian Hieroglyphics,” the whole mystery of which he (William) had discovered, and was ready (instead of a Geometrical Proposition) to unfold to us. At other times I have heard him say, much more to the point, that you were succeeding well in your Enterprise, and had “an hundred Looms going”:2 as for him, he could do nothing till this obscuration passed off; as by Heaven's mercy it was fast doing.— This then is my Bulletin. You can rhyme it together; and, as I think you are founded in doing, still gather new hope from it.

We rejoice honestly that your Adventure prospers; and continue to predict that there is every likelihood of its still going on to prosper. Diligent in Business, fervent in Spirit! Wise as the Serpent; gentle as the Dove!3

You will not learn without interest that we are actually taking steps for a removal at Whitsunday to London. Our House here is advertised to be let; and Friends are looking out there for another to take. All seems in motion towards departure; tho' as yet there is no irrevocable step taken. Among the several changes to those we love, which this revolution of ours will occasion, I have not forgot poor William's change. It seems to me, he will be able to go on with the Austins, not much worse than now. The only new thing they will have to learn will be to give him his Pill nightly, which we now do. In all other respects, Time and Quiet must in any case be his great Physicians.— By the bye, if you see Dr Cumin,4 you might ask him, If he knows by any personal observation of William's case, what sort of Pill or Medicine might be the best for him? The Colocynth he brought with him I conjectured or concluded to be bad: but had to find a substitute very much in the dark. I suspect there is little light to be got; and that in so robust a body as his, one kind may not be greatly inferior to the other.

Mrs Carlyle sends you her kind wishes and regards. She bids me say that now, with London in the wind, you are not to bring her a little Dog. Alas, we have quite other things than Dogs to think of! Besides there is the most glorious of Canary Birds here already (by the Spanish name of Chico, “little Boy”), filling the whole house with his jocundity, who amply supplies the place of Pet.

On the 3d of April then! / Always faithfully Your's,

T. Carlyle

Our kind regards to Mr Lamond, and Town-Councillor Hope.5 (in great haste)