1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


TC TO JAMES JOHNSTON; 17 December 1825; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18251217-TC-JJ-01; CL 3:435-437.


[17 December 1825]

My Dear Johnston,

I received your letter this evening; and have lost no time in fulfilling the request it contained. I am truly happy to find that your affairs in East Lothian wear so favourable an aspect; from your own account, and other notices which I have had, there seems to be very little doubt of your succeeding in your object. A youn[g] lady, whom you shall know and like if you go thither, the prime agent in the whole business, writes to me the other day: “I am looking forward with much pleasure to having your friend Mr Johnstone, here, that I may hold long communications with him about Annandale. I have got the promise of several votes over and above those secured by Gilbert Burns, so that I have no doubt he will be appointed to the office, tho' the townspeople are exerting themselves to the uttermost in favour of a Mr Young.” Be of good cheer then! Against the twenty-fifth of January, I shall certainly hail you as Paedagogus Designatus [teacher designate] of that ancient burgh; and then if you pit frae ye [produce] any thing in the style you are capable of, I may pronounce you to be a made man.

By all means write for testimonials, from all the four winds; it is the very smallest favour you can ask from Mitchell (because he is now of the High School) from Edward Irving (because his voice is as the trumpet of Orlando Furioso, in the Churches) from Mr Duncan (because as in my case if it do you no good it can do you no ill). There is now distinctly “a sound among the mulberry trees [underscored twice]”1 and it behoves you to “bestir” yourself with all your singular faculties. I never saw you have a fairer chance in my life. This affair will naturally so engross your attention, that till it is concluded I despair of getting you to talk on any other. Therefore I will not tell you a word of my proceedings on the summit of this very storm-beat everlasting Hill; except that I have been very industrious of late weeks, and favoured of Providence so far that almost half of my intended Book is ready for the press, into which I intend to put it forthwith, purposing to set forth for Edinburgh with that view in some three weeks time. I am loth to leave this abode where I have quiet in perfection; free air; the freest of air, and a red nag that carries me with a speed inferior only to that of Mahomet's ass, and has only thrown me once this whole season. Nevertheless what must be must. Brother John is in “Dickson's Lodgings, 13 Hill Place”; write to him if you can find as much leisure, or want anything in Edinr without having leisure. Your friends in Bogside are all well, as are all your friends here: The Duke's farms are to be let immediately; the Major's appearance has been like that of old Latinus wife in the city of Latium,2 the signal of unutterable hurlyburly and contention over all this district. Saxa et faces [stones and firebrands] (or as Martinus Scriblerus hath it faeces volant [particles of excrement fly]). The Bogside people are about offering for the Bank (not of England but) the Supplebank; long Robin being doomed and very meritedly doomed to ejection from those premises. My Father means to offer for Shawbrae. There has yet been no settlement whatever about this place; and poor old Blackadder has paid the debt of nature, and sleeps in Hoddom Churchyard, with all his honesties and villainies along with him. I was wae to the very heart that day I heard his knell ringing thro' the clear frosty air. He was a figure of my memory since light first dawned on it, and now his portly bulk is vanished from my view thro' all eternity, and I feel again that the fashion of this world passeth away.3 It is still uncertain whether Sharpe means that we should stay here after whitsuntide4 or not; but a few days more will determine. He, Sharpe, has acted very like a knave, if not altogether, as one in this matter, and the imperfect degree of reverence which has been yielded to his attempts at bully-raging and playing the tyrant of his fields may possibly enough have stung his magnanimous heart, I meet him sometimes in my rides, but never without some slight desire to pull his nose. It is the itching of the unregenerate man in me this; I ride on and think Is he not a son of Adam like thyself, with a squint in his eyes, great vanity, a young wife, a touch of villa[i]ny, and a racked rent roll, and nothing but one small fraction of a brain, to meet these many exigensies? Let him fight his own battle. Adieu!

I am always yours /

T. Carlyle