1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


TC TO JAMES JOHNSTON; 29 May 1824; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18240529-TC-JJ-01; CL 3:72-74.


Haddington, Saturday-night [29 May 1824].

My dear Johnstone,

Your letter was lying for me at the office of Messrs Oliver & Boyd when I returned from Annandale, last tuesday night. The newspapers, you must understand, for which you thanked me so cordially, were all transmitted from Mainhill, where I resided from the beginning of April, till the day above mentioned. Had my occupation been less incessant, I should undoubtedly have broken your repose and assisted by my suggestions the “compunctious visitings” of your own not yet altogether seared conscience. But alas! Goethe and Meister kept me busy as a cock upon the spit: it was not till yesterday that I got liberty to leave Edinburgh, and throw that wretched novel off my hands forever and a day. I am here spending with a kind & worthy family, a brief space of rest before setting off for London and Cornwall. You too are going to Vannes in Brittany! What strange shiftings to and fro in the monstrous whirligig of life!1 And are we to go without once having met? Old friends to part for we know not how long, and take no farewell? My dear James I cannot bear to think of it; and I write at present for the purpose of preventing it. This letter reaches you on Monday morning; I sail next Saturday by the steam-boat: could not you contrive to make a start for Edinr and meet me there about Wednesday-night, and stay with me the next two days? Or which would be better could not you come out hither? I would show you Gilbert Burns,2 little Brown3 the schoolmaster (now married to Margaret Farries) and the people I am staying with, who could not fail to please you. Whichever way you like, only do if possible do one of them. Consider how often I have been at Broughty-ferry! I would have gone again in all probability had I had time. Besides you will see the General Assembly in Edinr, and Murray &c &c; and I will give you a copy of Meister with you in your pocket, if you have a packet large enough to hold three volumes 8vo.

In short you must really make an effort: tell the General4 you have not been a day from home since your arrival; and that in very truth he must give you leave. Write at any rate on Monday-night, the letter will not fail to find me here on Wednesday morning; on which morning if you also should embark from Dundee we might meet in Edinr at night. My place there is Moray-street No. 1. Pattison's lodgings; and if they had not room for you, by walking up to Bristo street No. 35. Mrs Robertson (with whom you & I once staid a day or two) would if you mentioned my name to her most cheerfully admit you to any of her rooms, for all of them are vacant. Now think of this. At all events write to me directly; On monday, or at the very farthest on tuesday night, for in the latter case I should not receive the letter till Thursday-morning when I should be preparing to depart. A post later, nay two posts would still have a chance to find me at Edinr; but in place of them, I hope to find yourself.

I write this in the hurry of an hour after dinner in momentary expectation of the post. You see the purport of it, and will pardon blunders. My address here is: To the Care of Mrs Welsh, Haddington. Write, and come quickly, and believe me always

My dear Johnstone, / Your sincere old friend, /

Thomas Carlyle—

P[.S.:] If what I have said above, about your coming, th[reatens] to interfere with your professional arrangements, consider it as unsaid, and do not come to hurt yourself. Let me know on Wednesday morning what you mean to do. You see how I wish it, and how the matter stands. Adieu! The post-hour is about sounding.