The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 29 March 1820; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18200329-TC-MAC-01; CL 1:238-239.


Edinr29th March 1820—

My dear Mother,

Tho' in the matter of epistles you are greatly my debtor, I very gladly employ the few minutes, which yet remain before the porter comes, in complying with your request to hear from me.

It ought to be matter of incessant thankfulness on my part that you are all yet spared to me, and blessed with some measure of health to enjoy the happiness with which Providence mingles the cup of life. To you in particular, my dear Mother, I know that I can never be sufficiently grateful—not only for the common kindness of a mother; but for the unceasing watchfulness with which you strove to instill virtuous principles into my young mind: and tho' we are separated at the present, and may be still more widely separated, I hope the lessons which you taught will never be effaced from my memory.— I cannot say how I have fallen into this train of thought—but the days of childhood arise with so many pleasing recollections, & shine so brightly across the tempests & inquietude of succeeding times—that I felt unable to resist the impulse.— I must descend to more homely matter, however; for time presses, and I have much to say—considering the little room there is to say it in.

You already know that I am pretty well as to health; and also that I design to visit you before many weeks elapse. I cannot say that my prospects have got much brighter since I left you; the aspect of the future is still as unsettled as it ever was: but some degree of patience is behind; and hope—the charmer, that ‘springs eternal in the human breast’1 is yet here likewise. I am not of a humour to care very much for good or evil fortune, so far as concerns myself; the thought that my somewhat uncertain condition gives you uneasiness chiefly grieves me. Yet I would not have you to despair of your ribe2 of a boy: he will do something yet; he is a shy stingy3 soul, and very likely has a higher notion of his parts than others have: but on the other hand he is not incapable of diligence, he is harmless & possesses the virtue of his country—thrift;—so that after all, things will yet be right in the end.

I have now great store of cakes, meal &c &c so that I think you need not send any box next time Farries travels northwards. By that period I shall be better enabled to say how long it is likely that I shall be here. If you can find time to write me on that occassion I shall be very happy; if not I shall impute your silence to want of leisure or some other satisfactory cause; and patiently delay our conference till my arrival at Mainhill.— You used to accuse me of bad writing; and for this time, I daresay you are in the right; for I have written as fas[t] as John Gilpin of deathless memory gallopped to or from ‘the Bell at Islington so gay.’4 You must be sure to tell me yourself or bid the boys tell me, how my father's health continues. My love to all the little ones. Believe me to be,

My dear Mother, / Your affectionate son /

Thomas Carlyle