The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 6 December 1820; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18201206-TC-MAC-01; CL 1:292-294.


Edinr, 6th December, 1820.

My dear Mother,

Expecting that Thursday morning would be arrived before Farries made his appearance here, I intended to set to work this night and write you a very full statement of all my doings since we parted: I am writing as you see on the night appointed; but with the prospect of the Porter's speedy appearance I must write hurriedly, and this circumstance will plead the excuse of my blunders in the present letter, and of my total failure in writing to my Father, which I am reluctantly compelled to postpone till a fresh opportunity.

My dear Mother, I should plead an apology of the most humble sort for the poor way in which alone I have hitherto been able to reward your truly maternal love and care of me. I know well and feel deeply that you entertain the most solicitous anxiety about my temporal and still more about my eternal welfare; as to the former of which, I have still hopes that all your tenderness will yet be repaid, and as to the latter—tho' it becomes not the human worm to boast—I would fain persuade you not to harbour so many doubts. Your character and mine are far more similar than you imagine; and our opinions too, tho' clothed in different garbs, are I well know still analogous at bottom. I respect your religious sentiments & honour you for feeling them, more than if you were the highest woman in the world without them. Be easy, I entreat you, on my account; the world will use me better than before, and if it should not,—let us hope to meet in that upper country, when the vain fever-dream of life is gone by, in the country where all darkness shall be light, and where the exercise of our affections shall not be thwarted by the infirmities of human nature any more.— But I must not continue.

Our Review,1 you may partly hear, is still in a fluctuating state. Indeed to say truth, I place very little reliance on the scheme: but still it is not yet finally over till we hear from London: I shall know the issue next time I write. There seems little hope of getting anything to translate here at present—and perhaps it is as well. Brewster will give me ‘articles’ enough; but I am little in condition to write them at present. In a short space, however, I shall be quite well; and as (by Advocate Henderson's2 means) I have now got admission to the Advocate's library—I shall have good access to books—if nothing better cast up. Meanwhile my living here is not to lose me any thing, at least for a season more or less. I have got two hours of teaching (9 to 10 and 1 to 2) a few days ago, which both gives me a call to walk, and brings in 4 guineas a-month. I understand indeed they are not to continue many weeks but still they are serviceable in the meantime; and I have written to Mr Duncan to give me introduction to Gray of the High School, if he see fit,—that so I may get more, and not expend my small money in the event of continuing here.— I am dead stupid to-night—so I fear you do not understand me well; but I shall write to Jack at Annan with greater fullness and leisure.— I have already made a fearful attack upon the excellent cakes: you need not send any next time, I think; for the Landlady can bake them—tho' she admits not equally well. She is a mighty good lady, and were not her room coldish, I should be quite fortunate in that respect. There is a room recommended to me far away—beyond the town—on the northside of it, where it is said I might have both country air and warmth with good attendance for the same sum. It is to be empty about New Year's day. Of course I can determine nothing yet. You shall hear all in due time.

But I must conclude for the present. Give my best love to my Father (with my foresaid excuse) and to all the sundry about Mainhill. Where are Mag and Mary that they do not write? And [The rest of the letter is missing.]