The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 25 March 1822; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18220325-TC-JAC-01; CL 2:73-76.


3. Moray-street, 25th March 1822—

My dear Jack,

If you were at Mainhill last Saturday, you would find a letter for you in the box which arrived from Edinr, and various additional letters addressed to others would be communicated to you; so that you cannot fail to be almost satiated for a time with descriptions of my walk and conversation here. Accordingly I have not taken up the pen tonight for the purpose of enlarging much farther on that topic: but on a small affair of business which I request you to consider and send me your deliverance upon as soon as possible. It concerns myself; and involves a petition, which I am sure you will be happy to grant me if you can.

Owing to various calls of expenditure and various stoppages of income, it has so fallen out that I am at present rather imperfectly provided with that first of necessaries, ready money: and as I have a considerable reluctance to dun any of my creditors or to be indebted to this my landlady, I have bethought me that if Biggar has paid your salary, as he was bound, you may be able to furnish me with a fi'pun [underscored twice] or ten-pound note for a month or two. If so, I will desire you to cut a fit space out of the corner of a sheet of paper, to insert the said note therein, filling the other vacant space with intelligence from yourself, and transmit the whole to me without delay. This request will come to you on Thursday Morning: if you can be ready before the Post hour on Friday, I shall get the whole on Saturday-night, and be very much obliged by it.

But observe, My good Jack, if you have not the cash about you, take no thought of this matter; conceive that I have supplied myself else-where, and write to me without minding any thing about it. The truth is it is only very culpable negligence, and a kind of false pride that puts me on asking it from you at all. I neglected, even partly refused to take payment of four guineas from a Mrs M'Kenzie in whose family, I had been teaching during the early part of winter: and last Saturday when I called to present my account, I found the Lady had gone to London, and was not to be home, for an unknown period. This somewhat deranged my calculations; and might teach me that a bird in the hand is better than one in the bush. It served very little, however, to give me any relish for asking cash; and therefore I did not yet trouble the Bibliopolist Waugh for between twenty & thirty pounds that he owes me,1 or Brewster for a considerable sum which he will owe me very soon.2 But if you have not the money lying ready in your drawer; fear not that I will make the Baillie table his clinquant [shiny coins]—and “touch” it for my own behoof without delay. In truth he has used me but scurvily in the matter, and I design to make him deliver any way very soon. And now I think of it—you had better write on Thursday—if possible—that I may have time to ask him, before Saturday-night (which is my Account-night) in case of failure. You can write on Thursday—if you are not very busy—and merely say (if that be it) that your purse is not so full as necessary.

I confess, My dear Jack, I have some pleasure in making this request, because I know thou wilt have pleasure in complying with it, if thy means permit. I like to think of brothers obliging and being obliged to each other—in both of which circumstances, I hope thou & I shall often be mutually in future.

Surely this pen has a peculiar faculty of filling up room! It is only a few minutes since I began this sheet; and it is already all but done. The subject is the most prosaic of subjects: but we must just submit. “Another time,” as the Great Frederick said, when he was beaten at Prague—“another time, we will do better.” Meanwhile let me ask how go your studies and labours on with you? Your Greek? (be steady in this)— Your Horace? Your West?3 And how does your heart support the toil and isolation of a life in Annan? Be of good Courage my brave Tongleg: the day of deliverance is drawing nigh. You will get employment here, and large admission to the wells of knowledge: if your health keep firm (of which I conjure you with all the solemnity in my power to be careful), there is not a shadow of danger, that with your habits of patient perseverance, and the talents which Providence has given you, abundant success will attend all your modest and praiseworthy enterprises. Never faulter, tho' your path lie thro' regions of dust and nakedness and solitude: have your eyes fixed on the golden summit of literary eminence to which you are yet destined to rise; and what may you not endure? I myself have crossed those desarts in which you are now sojourning—and been sorely maimed in crossing them: draw largely upon what experience I have amassed, and without stint upon the sympathy which your qualities and your kindness to me so well merit at my hands. Write me all—all. Never mind the Carriers; take the Post, whenever you have a vacant hour: there is not a letter that I receive, which gives me more pleasure than one of yours. You have written well this winter—better than my expectations—tho' worse than my wishes. Fall not off from this beginning. Write me often and largely—never minding what you say or how you say it: every such letter does good to both of us.

I am pretty well myself “i' the health part o't”; Grahame has sent me an elixir from Glasgow, which I am drinking daily, and find rather beneficial. It contains bark and various gums of a spicy nature. “Faust” is ready for going down with the next box. I am gasping for a subject [underscored twice], and almost beginning to fix: If I were once fixed—!— I feel little pleasure in myself till I am.— There is various tittle-tattle here, but nothing that I or you care about.— Heaven guide you always my boy! is the prayer of

Your brother, /

T. Carlyle

It is “pa-ast eleven”—and I have up the Walk4 to go as far as Waterloo bridge with this scrawl: so I have hastened. Good night Jack!— Write pointedly.