The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 22 March 1823; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18230322-TC-MAC-01; CL 2:307-309.


3. Moray-street, 22d March, 1823—

My dear Mother,

It appears that Farries is here to-day, and as I am got down from India-street in time for writing you a few words, I cannot omit this opportunity of doing so. We have not got a syllable of intelligence from Mainhill; but this we impute solely to Geordie's1 having set out without giving you proper warning, and we force ourselves to believe that you are all in your usual health and circumstances,—a blessing which it has pleased Providence long to continue with us, and which we shall never prize sufficiently till it is taken away. For you, My dear Mother, we are seldom without anxieties; your infirm state and many cares but too well justify them. I can only entreat you again more earnestly than ever to take every possible care of yourself—to watch over your health as the greatest treasure to all your children, and to none more than me. I still hope to find you whole and well when we meet, and to have our tea and smoke and small talk together down the house, many many happy times, as heretofore. There are no moments when I can forget all my cares, as in these: I seem to lose twenty of my years, when we are chatting together, and to be a happy thoughtless urchin of a boy once more. Amid all my sorrows (of which I often think I have had my share first and last), there is nothing which has yielded me so constant a gratification as your affection and welfare, nothing that I ought to [be] so thankful for enjoying,—or that I should pray more earnestly for having still vouchsafed to me.

There is nothing in this sort of prating I am going on with; but is about as good as any thing I have got to tell you. When I have said that Jack and I are still in our common state of health and going forward with our customary occupations, I have as good as finished my tale. There is no change in our individual conditions, and the changes which pass in the world around us are things in which we have little part or lot, and so take little note of. Life to both of us is still very very much in prospect: we are not yet what we hope to be. Jack is going to become a large gawsie broad-faced Practicer of Physic—to ride his horse in time, and gives aloes by rule, and make money and be a large man; while I—in spite of all my dyspepsias and nervousness, and hypochondrias—am still bent on being a very meritorious sort of character—rather noted in the world of letters, if it so please Providence—and useful, I hope, whithersoever I go, in the good old cause, for which I beg you to believe that I cordially agree with you in feeling my chief interest, however we may differ in our modes of expressing it. For attaining this mighty object, I have need of many things—which I fear I shall never get; but if my health were once sound again, I should feel such an unextinguishable diligence within me that my own exertions might supply almost every want. This greatest of blessings is yet but partially restored to me: however I do verily believe that it is coming back by degrees—so I live as patiently as I can and fear nothing.

The next summer I hope will do great things for me—almost set me on my feet again. The Bullers are going to the country, and if so I go with them. They have not yet fixed on the place: but they have almost determined in favour of North Berwick a place about thirty miles east of this—in the neighbourhood of which they talk about taking a lease of a house belonging to Sir Hugh Dalrymple.2 I will get the poney from home, and ride about, and write and talk and carry on my duties, and grow as whole as a trout. The air and the sun have almost as much effect on me, as if I were a cabbage-plant, and not a living man. I hope one day to be independent of their influence.

But I am at the bottom of my sheet, and must conclude this palaver. There are many debts lying against me to my worthy correspondents at Mainhill—which lie heavy on my conscience and must in due time be discharged. I beg you will try to keep the creatures quiet in the meanwhile, and advise them to send me another file of Epistle's. Is Jane going on to rhyme? I shewed her “meanest of the letter kind” to several judges, and they declared she must be a very singular crow— This is a real truth.3 You must give my love to my Father and all the rest conjunctly and severally. Tell Sandy and my Father to write next time, if they can snatch as many moments from the sowing. Write to me yourself the very first spare hour you have. Good night, My dear Mother—it is dark, and I must cease. I am ever your's

T. Carlyle