The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 1 March 1823; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18230301-TC-MAC-01; CL 2:296-298.


3. Moray-street, Saturday, [1 March 1823]

My dear Mother,

I trusted fully that to-day I should be able to make you some amends for the pitiful scrawl which was all I could send you last time; but on waiting the issue I find myself again disappointed. The Bullers are going out to dine to-day, and I am to spend the evening in the house with their boys. I could easily have dispensed with the honour; but as it is I must make the best of a bad bargain, and scribble you a few lines before their dinner-time, tho' my hands are so numb with cold got in walking that I can hardly form a legible word. We had a fall of snow yesterday, which the sun has scarcely licked up yet; and the air is chill by reason of it. On the whole however this weather is very precious to me: I have not been so well for a long while. I trust, My dear Mother, that you too are tasting the benefits of returning spring, and feeling more comfortable than you did in the horrid storms we had thro' winter. It is hard for one to be so like a vegetable; but one cannot help it.

These cakes and eggs and butter have furnished us for a long time: we have nothing but thanks to give you in return,—and our cordial approbation of the ware itself. I have already half-dined upon the cakes, and can give my verdict honestly in their favour. I wish we had any thing as savoury to send to the south. Here is some grain of tea, which I am going to persuade you to make use of. I am quite convinced a little of it would be of the greatest service to you every night; and if so, why do you not take it? Give me leave to say that it is not kind in you to deny me that gratification. If it were one's last shilling, it were a different affair; but as we are, what are a few bits of stamped paper to the pleasure of doing one another good? Our money and ourselves are alike hastening to decay, but the pure and kind feelings we excite in each other shall outlive the world itself. If there is any thing therefore that I can do to help you, I entreat you to let me know. This has been so often repeated that it looks like mere profession, but I feel within me that it is something more

The Bullers were talking of going to the country in summer, and they once spoke of Largs as the particular place; but that last part of the project is all gone to the winds again, and they now know not whither they are going. They are still determined for the country they say, and what is more I am myself determined for it, for if they do not go thither, I intend accompanying Mrs Wilkie down to Portobello, a place on the seashore about two miles from hence, where she has a good house in the middle of a garden all to herself, and a stable in which I shall stall the worthy steed that Sandy has and ride up on it to town every day. This dark and smoky den of filth and wickedness (it is a good and beautiful city, whatever I may say when out of humour with it) shall not hold me here thro' out the bright months of the year. I understand however that the Bullers are determined to make some change in their abode shortly; they talk of going back to London, and leaving me with their sons; they talk of sending us to St Andrews; they talk of twenty things, and can fix on none. They have something else to do forsooth! They have to go to balls and make balls, and give dinners and take them, and entertain the mob of gentlemen that wear laced coats and perfumed handkerchiefs. I often think I had rather break stones with Candlewick Andrew on the King's Highway. Yet they are good people, and very kind and respectful to me in their way: I am obliged to them for this, and study to keep myself quiet and easy, which I can do the more readily, as I find that at bottom I do not care a doit for one of them. If we were to part forever to-morrow, I believe their loss would be no smaller than mine. So we jog on quite contentedly together. I would rather have you for a mother than twenty Mrs Bullers, tho' she dances excellently and plays and jigs and dresses and talks just like a lady, as I am told. It may be so, but these Ladies are not for my money.— Herders Mother (Herder1 was a great German writer and once very poor) brought you last night before my eyes: Her letter to him was just as if you had been writing in German. Such people have all my love. Excuse haste My dear Mother, and believe me ever your affecte son, T. Carlyle