Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

I
HELPING A STRANGER TO GET WORK (1850)

IN September last Carlyle at Scotsbrig had been corresponding with his old friend the Glasgow merchant, David Hope,--the friend of Edward Irving long ago,1-- about a possible trip to Iona, which was abandoned. From London on 3.12.50 he wrote to him another letter,1 worth reading now for the glimpse it gives of a side of Carlyle's continual activity which was intentionally kept out of sight. We are left guessing the sequel, which matters to nobody now.--

'My DEAR SIR,--

'Is your brother William still in these parts, and at all engaged in the teaching department? If so, will you let me ask you for his address?

'A very worthy poor Scotchman has just called upon me, much wanting instructions as to his method of attempting to get employment in that line, for which he is intrinsically well qualified, tho quite new in the ways of this big Babel; and I, in my great ignorance of such matters, have bethought me of your brother's experienced sense and humanity as one of the likeliest courses for entering upon this affair.

'We are puddling away in the midst of foggy frost, reek rain,' meaning Smoke rain, or rain falling full of soot from the smoke in the air,--'and "No Popery, "--getting up our "Crystal Palace" very fast (if that could do anything for us), and little else that I see. My two months of roaming, in Wales and the Scottish border, do not seem to have done much for me: I am the same complaining creature you have always known me; and shall likely continue such, I think. After all, as the Psalmist has it, "Why should a living man complain?"--Because he is a fool, I do surmise, and for no other reason. Believe me always,

'Very truly yours, ' T. CARLYLE.'

____________________
1
Unpublished Letters of Carlyle (to Edward Irving and David Hope), Scribner's Mag., apparently April, 1893, pp. 416-25. See Carlyle Till Marriage, pp. 234-6 etc.

-327-

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