The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO THOMAS MURRAY; 8 August 1823; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18230808-TC-TM-01; CL 2:410-411.


Mainhill, 8th August, 1823—

My dear Murray,

I received your two letters in due succession, and great cause I had to commend your friendly activity in my behalf. The virtue of punctuality makes little figure in treatises of Ethics, but it is of essential importance in the conduct of life; like common kitchen-salt—scarce heeded by cooks and purveyors, tho' without it, their wares would soon run to rottenness and ruin. You have managed these Book-concerns admirably: it is very probable that in return for your diligence in that matter I may ere long trouble again.

A more suitable return would have been to comply with your friendly wish to see me in Galloway, during this your holiday excursion. I have thought of it frequently since my arrival here; at one time I had well nigh determined on treating myself with that delicacy; but the wet weather made my resolutions waver; and the lateness of your visit has at length forced them to settle on the other side. I must be at Kinnaird on this day se'ennight; I have yet seen no friend in Annandale, except those under my Father's roof: judge then if I can set out for your native district when so circumstanced. I have still about fifty ways to go; and having a horse to take with me to the North, I am compelled to set out about Wednesday next, that I may not break down the “gallant grey” before seeing Perthshire. Therefore you must excuse me, for this once. Next year, unless the fates have written it otherwise, I intend that we shall ride in company thro' the whole length and breadth of Brave Galloway, and spend ten days together in seeing all manner of sights and talking all manner of talk. Meanwhile I can only wish you may have better luck than I have had; may find fair skies and pleasant faces everywhere to welcome you, that so you may refresh you[r] faculties of head and heart for another and a busy winter in the city of stench and science (the focush of both),1 where I hope to see you many a, many a merry time.

This last month has been among the idlest and barrenest of my existence. My chief pleasure and employment has been galloping, no whither, amid wind and rain, for the mere sake of galloping. The weather! The weather! If it were not that all men women and children in the British Islands have exclaimed ten times a-day for the last six weeks: “Bless me! such weather!” I too would say something very pithy on the subject. But what would it avail? Let it rain guns and bayonets, if it like; the less I say of it the better.

See that you get along with Stair2 and these worthies without delay. There is nothing in this world that will keep the Devil out of one, but hard labour. Of my devils at least I may say: this kind goeth not out by fasting and prayer. I will get the the [sic] weather-gage of him yet the Thief after all. You should certainly inquire about the Earl of Selkirk:3 a very interesting thing might be made of him; and for you, c'est là votre métier [that is your profession].

Jack and I are for Annan, spite of the clouds and glar: he is fidgetting like some hen in an interesting condition. So I must leave you for the present. Try if you can write to me when you return to town: if not I will myself endeavour. In the end of October I hope to see you. Jack's compliments of the kindest sort to you. The people here all know you, and hope at a more convenient season to see your face.

Make my best respects to the Reverend gentleman of Girthon,4 whom I regret that I have not seen and talked much sense and nonsense with; to the Misses Murray of Wigton;5 to the [mo]st musical Jemima and her sister and all the people [who] care a doit about my worthless self. Jack is out of all bounds. Adieu! I am always most faithfully yours

Thomas Carlyle.