The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 2 December 1819; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18191202-TC-JAC-01; CL 1:210-211.


Edinr Duff's lodgings 35 Bristo-street, / 2nd December 1819—

My dear Jack,

I am very much satisfied, as may well be supposed, to hear that thou and the cattle got safely home—tho' faint, yet persevering. I have only to hope that nothing sustained any serious injury by that adventure. Most probably you are already come home from Cumberland: I trust, you and our cousin (to whom give my best love) were pleased with the beautiful, tho' at this season prostrate, aspect of that interesting county. You have no doubt resumed your occupations; and at this hour (6 o'clock) I suppose are ‘forming the circle’ around your cheerful fire—to teach, and to be taught. Innocent group! peace be with you all!

To me it is good news that you and Geo Johnstone1 are studying together. Whatever thy hand findeth to d[o,] do it with all thy might—is a good maxim, when applied in moderation [tear in paper] is most [tear]-ly improved—write a copy every night, [tear] will actually be a very good penman— I can give you [tear] about your path in life—my own situation is dubious & fluctu[ating: tear] an advice to which many years have given the sanction of experience is that the pursuit of useful information is an honourable one, and the attainment of it (next to that of virtuous habits) the noblest which a mortal can atchieve.— I have very little time to enter into particulars about my studies which indeed are yet (alas!) hardly begun. I am at the Scots law class; and the professor (a nephew of the historian Hume) is most perspicuous; but law is to me an untrodden path, and much toil will be requisite for mastering it. Yet I fear that little. I have got four very ponderous quartos of notes taken, from these lectures, in shorthand—they promise to be of much use to me. I have read Millar on the English government &c— The notes came from Hill (my comarade for a part of last winter): perhaps I shall send these letters in the box, which once held these learned papers. But I must have done, Jack— Remember me in the most kind manner to Mag, Jemmy, Mary, Jean and little Jenny. Tell all of them to write me that can write. Be good to them, poor things. Send me all your copies, write copiously (in your letter to me); & be assured that I remain

My dear Brother, / Your's most faithfully /

Thomas Carlyle

(I have not time to send the box). 7¾ o'clock—

You will send down that great ugly Italian book nani storia della venizia,2 along with the note to Annan. Geordy is to send me a book of the Scots acts of Parliament; you will put it in the box.