January 1835-June 1836

The Collected Letters, Volume 8


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 4 December 1835; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18351204-TC-AC-01; CL 8:268-270.


Cheyne Row, 4th Decr, 1835—

My Dear Alick,

This miserable scrap of paper is barely, if at all, better than nothing; but I cannot let another frank go without at least one word from me: a word to signify articulately in black on white the “farewell” I had not time to take of you by speech that morning. What you felt as I went whirling away from you, in that dumb hurried manner, I could well feel. By the blessing of the heavenly Powers, we will meet again, and have some speech yet.

All my news are in the sheet already written to Jean, which you will see. The thing I had farther to say was a question, best put to yourself: How you are getting on with those farms, and other projects of yours? I will keep flattering myself that you have fallen in with some kind of prospect that way. America is a thing one scunners at [flinches from] terribly; surely poor Scotland is not quite desolate yet. Let us do our best, Boy! In the mean time, one counsel I have to give (and indeed it is the one I have myself, in my own position, to take): that of being as quiet as were possible; considerably quieter than you are. Do not madden your heart with the thing, let it go which way it will; sit still, till you have more clearness; the clock-weights of the world are not rushing madly down, it is only one's own impatient temper that so paints it out to one. I really would like well to hear that you could, many a time, thro' these winter days, sit down quietly and do nothing: read, or, as John advises, take to improvement in spelling and arithmetic. Books I really would counsel: ask Ben Nelson, for instance, whether he cannot get you Stewart's work on America,1 and many other works on it, or on other subjects that may interest you? He will do it quite willingly; or you may procure Books elsewhere: and really cannot be better employed than reading them. Of course, neglecting no opportunity of trying for farms; in which I still hope you will find the modest success you seek. But if not, why then still we are not lost, we will not despair, There is a wide world still; and hearts, that will all help one another. No “brattling and brainging at ta weemsie” then! “Kit what ta deevil ails ta?”2

I hope at any rate my dear Brother you will write to me freely, very soon; and tell me what your speed [progress] is be it better, be it worse.— I am somewhat feckless and bilious, as you will see by Jean's Letter; but not ailing anything other than that.— Jack abides at Munich, so far as we can see, thro' the winter: perhaps he could not be better than there. The Paper is done: I durst not take a larger bit for overloading the frank. Ja[ne is r]ather ailing too, unites with me in kind love to all your Ho[usehol]d & you. Do not forget the small Jane, the small Tom!— Sit composed thro' the winter my dear Alick; hopeful, trusting in Heaven and its goodness; and when intolerable misery overtakes you at any hour, seek within your own heart for the cause of it. God bless you! Believe me Ever your affectionate Brother,— T. Carlyle