The Collected Letters, Volume 2


EDWARD IRVING TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 11 October 1823; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18231011-EI-TC-01; CL 2:e4.


Kirkcaldy 11th Oct 1823

My Dear Carlyle

I am here, my Father and two brothers-in law, and I expect my two brothers from the nest so we shall be a jolly company—here in the room where in days of old we have handled so many questions with the gudsire of Kirkcaldy.1 And among the other notables of the place I have been shewing my worthy Father the place where Thomas Carlyle lived,2 and where would be found the ghosts of more departed good sense than in any other place in this Kingdom. For there his hopeful son and the wittiest of men were wont to discourse of all things written & unwritten, thought of and unthought of. These our happy communings I propose to revoke from oblivion if you be as willing as I am and as able as you are wont to be. For I purpose, having gained my wife's most willing consent to be at Dunkeld on Thursday, I think to breakfast or soon after it, and to pass the time with you till the Monday following.3 But further than an exchange of visits perhaps, to Mrs Buller, I propose nothing, being resolved to devote myself for these days to the best friend I have in these parts. I think we may lay many plans useful to us both, and if I can get you to consent to a Summer's visit to us in London,4 I doubt nothing of your speedily finding your way to the level in the Society to which your genius drives you in spite of yourself, and which I hope to see it long adorn. Be it understood therefore that, if you can accomplish it, we pass the greater part of Thursday Friday & Saturday and Sabbath together—and after if you will join us and complete our tour by Paisly to Annan, you cannot conceive what a blessing we would account it, and I take it it would be a blessing to yourself.5

My Dear Carlyle I did not know how much you esteemed me, until I witnessed how for my sake, you subdued your natural feelings when I put them to such a test by my seeming neglect last summer but truly my excessive occupation [sic].6 Nor did I know how much I loved you till I came to Edn and found you my former companion, and friend absent, and no one who had any power to move or to console my mind. I feel assured that nothing shall divide us till death, and that we may help each other most mightily in our passage to what is high & honourable, as surely you have helped me already.

There arise before me in dim perspective many visions of happiness to us both and to some others in whom we are dearly interested, but I dare not cast these into shape much more give them utterance. You cannot be more happy to meet me than I am to meet you. And we shall not be the less delighted that Isabella whom I love and you highly regard should be our only audience. The Annandale men delight at your very name.7 There is one sentiment over all their rude minds that you are formed for strange and wonderful things tho they consider a fellow that will not heed to any thing, but drive on some hope to greatness and goodness, most prone to misery and ruin. Nevertheless my faith standeth sure. And I know in whom I have believed. And never of my destinies did I feel more secure than at this moment when I write. Our purpose is to be at Perth on Wednesday by the Steamboat.8 If you thought of riding to meet us—how acceptable it would be. But in all this consult duty more than feeling. And believe me

Your most true-hearted friend /

Edwd Irving