The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 15 December 1819; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18191215-TC-AC-01; CL 1:211-213.


Edinr15th December 1819—

My dear Alick,

Having set out this day about half-past twelve o'clock, as my custom is, to get the fresh air, I proceeded in an hour to the law class and upon returning at 3, I found that Geordy1 had exceeded my expectations, and brought the box even before the appointed time. My dinner was to eat, and fifty things to do beside: you must therefore excuse the briefness of this poor half-sheet, and trust that another time, I shall be more circumstantial.

I was truly sorry and at the same time tickled to observe the abrupt conclusion of your letter. The thunder of Jack's snoring is not unknown to me; but, poor fellow!2 you would pity his cold and rejoice that he could sleep at all. In your next letterI shall expect a continuation of your journey,3 with remarks upon the striking district which you surveyed, and the unpolished but honest-hearted mortals that inhabit it.

You will be glad to learn that I am well and comfortable. The landlady4 I am with is a careful decent kind of woman, she seems to be the best I have had since Mrs Skene, whose like I do not look for. This trifling yet not unimp[ortan]t matter, is thus, I hope, fairly settled. I attend the law class, with some sat[isfac]tion, and read a book called Erskine's Institute upon the same. Erskine's institute, would weigh about four stones avoirdupois; and you would [think] the very Goddess of dullness5 had inspired every sentence. Yet I proceed without fainting. I go likewise occassionally to the Parliament-house; and hear the pleadings. I imagine it would not be difficult to demolish certain persons whom I see gain a livelihood by pleading there. In the mean time it behoves me to live in hope, and make every effort. There is nothing new here almost. Some timourous individuals about Glasgow, imagined that the Radicals (as their cant name is) intended to rise on Monday last; and accordingly on Saturday all the soldiers were sent from Edinr & Jock's lodge;6 our volunteers took possession of the Castle; and to use James Root's expression, ‘there was preekin & preckin7 the-a-re’—riding, running, marching &countermarching in every direction. I saw the Yeomen set out on Sunday morning. This was very gallant; and the five thousand soldiers that surrounded Glasgow were I doubt not very brave fellows; but the Radicals—stuck to their looms. A mountain was once in labour, and when all men had come to see the issue—a mouse was born.8 So is it with the ‘rebellion in the west’; and the five and twenty thousand men in arms that were to murder all his majesty's lieges in Lanarkshire.— I am very vexed that you see no newspaper at this most interesting period. I must try to get a Scotsman some way; for I see none myself, except when I go to a bookseller's shop which is very unsatisfactory.— You have not sent me any copy— yet I hope you continue to write, and also to mind your spelling. How does Hume go forward? I expect a long account of every thing from you, when you write next. I do not think of leaving Edinr during the vacation at Christmas. I shall stay & read or write rather.

Believe me to be, / My dear Brother, / Your's most faithfully /

Thomas Carlyle.

I forgot to send your money last time. I shall (unless this hurry mislead me) send you 4 notes this journey. I believe the debt is somewhat less—but I owe Jack something; and the remainder you can give my Mother for shirts &c retain[in]g a few shillings to buy me tobacco from time to time. Keep it very wet—the tobacco I mean.