October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 24 October 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18341024-TC-AC-01; CL 7:318-320.


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London / 24th October, 1834—

My Dear Alick,

It is many a long day since you sent me the scrape of a pen; you are in my debt too I believe for one very long Letter (or more?), and still persist in Silence. This is not right; tho' I know writing is a great burden to you, and from day to day some new thing or other is turning up to frustrate the purpose you may form in my behalf that way. Well! I look for a Frank today; and will send you this thin memorial of me: whether you answer or not, I shall know that it gives you pleasure, and never doubt that you send me (in heart at least) your thanks and best brotherly wishes.

We have a new winter at our door; all, as I fancy it, has been got under thatch and rope about Catlinns; not without an effort, as I often fancied when thinking of you on the wet harvest days. But the thing I have no means even of guessing here is what arrangement you have formed, or whether any yet, with your poor needy and greedy Landlords. Are you to leave that Knowe-head [knoll-head] at Whitsunday; or have they lowered your rent so as to make it tolerable and payable? This last is perhaps the way I ought to wish it, so wasteful are all changes. However, I am very anxious to know.— In any case, be of good heart, my dear Brother: let no difficulties darken your mind, or beat down the rigorous energy that is in you. “To be weak is miserable,”1 says the Poet Milton: that is the only misery for a man. I am a poor comforter for I preach up nothing but toil, toil; yet such is the truth, if we saw it, for all men: and for all genuine men, is there not the sure hope of a reward? Persevere, then: “in due time ye shall reap if ye faint not.”2

What passes with myself here I have mainly described in Letters to my Mother, and others of them, which most probably you have seen. The world looks rough on me, but not hostile; I feel that I shall have labour enough, and what payment I ask from the world: meat and clothes. There is nothing like the deep sulkiness of Craigenputtoch troubles me here: I see always that I am in the right workshop, had I but got acquainted with the tools properly; here I must stand to it; here or nowhere!— My Mother will tell you that I am getting on with my new French Book: it is calculated that I ought to have it out about March next (that being what they call “a good time,” the Parliament and Fashionables all on the spot): but whether I can keep my day or not, will depend somewhat on fortune. I strive to be as diligent as possible in all senses and do my best.— You have got the old Puttoch Teufelsdröckh (I hear), the last I wrote near you; and will prize it on that account, I believe: it is printed there you see, and cannot now be burnt or lost; and so if there be any good in it, the world has it; if none there is little harm done. I find strictly few to admire it, but then actually a few; and great multitudes to turn up their eyes in speechless amazement.

I saw the fire of the two Parliament Houses; and, what was curious enough, Matthew Allen (of York, you remember) found me out in the crowd there, whom I had not seen before for years.3 The crowd was quiet, rather [gratified] than otherwise; whew'd and whistled when the breeze came as if to encourage it: “there's a flare-up” (what we call shine) “for the House O' Lords!”— “A judgement for the Poor-Law Bill!”— “There go their hacts” (acts)!—such exclamations seemed to be the prevailing ones. A man sorry I did not anywhere see.— They will have to build a new house; and it may produce consequences not generally forseen yet.

Poor Edward Irving is at this moment I believe in Glasgow: the accounts I get of him (from Willm Hamilton)4 fill me with pain. He is in the worst state of health, and will not rest; threatened with Consumption; it now at last begins to seem too likely to me, that the conclusion of all that wild work, will be early death! Oh dear, what a tragedy is Life to most of us; often to those that seemed the luckiest! I know not what to do in this matter of poor Irving, and can for the present do nothing but grieve.

Alas, my dear Boy, here is the en[d of my] Paper! There will be more franks going soon, and I shall afford you better measure— Give our love to Jenny;5 lovingly guide and encourage her in all right ways, as is your duty and engagement. Little Jane I suppose is become a very “conversical” little Kimmer [gossip] by this time: even Tom must be beginning to make his observations. Be thankful for them, and yet earnestly anxious: regard them as a gift and a solemn obligation. Write soon. May all good be with you and yours my dear Brother! I am ever Your affectionate,

T. Carlyle—