The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 21 July 1821; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18210721-TC-MAC-01; CL 1:374-375.


Edinr Saturday Evening [ca. 21 July 1821].

My dear Mother,

I have still a few minutes on hand before the time of delivering up my packet to the care of Garthwaite; I cannot easily employ them better than in writing a line or two for your perusal. A line or two, you see, is all that this paper will hold; and in fact I do not need much more. I am to see you very soon, when we shall meet over a savoury dish of tea down-the-house [in the room at the back of the house]; and discuss in concert all that has happened to each of us since we parted. That will be a much finer method than the tardy plan of exchanging letters—which however copious are always a very unfaithful and inadequate emblem of the truth.

I care not how soon I were down at Mainhill: for this city is fast getting very unpleasant. The smell of it, or rather the hundred thousand smells are altogether pestilential, at certain hours. And then the dust, and, more than all together, the noise—of many animals, and many carts, and fishwives innumerable; not to mention men selling water (of which there is a thirst & a scarcity here) armed with long battered tin-horns, that utter forth a voice—to which the combined music of an ass a hog and fifty magpies all blended into one rich melody were but a fool. The man wakens me every morning about seven of the clock, with a full-flowing screech, that often makes me almost tremble.

I hope you are getting into better health now when the weather is bright and invigorating. Have you ever got down to sea-bathing, this summer? You should try it by all means. It is quite a specific to me; if I lived by the shore, I am almost certain I should recover completely. This last winter and spring I have had more light thrown upon your various indispositions than I ever got before. I may say I never till lately knew how to pity you as I ought. These nerves when they get deranged are the most terrific thing imaginable. I do entreat you, my dear Mother, to take the most minute and scrupulous charge of your health—for the sake of us all. No one can tell what you have endured already— Take care! take care!

As to news or any thing of that sort, you will find all I have to say in the boys' letters. At any rate [you] see, the paper is finished, and I must withdraw. Give my love to my Father & all the wee things—not forgetting Nancy if she is still with you.

I am always (My dear Mother) / Your affe son, /

Thos Carlyle.