The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 27 February 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260227-TC-JAC-01; CL 4:44-46.


Hoddam Hill, Monday-Night. [27? February 1826]

My Dear Jack,

I am sorry at having nothing more comprehensive than this very poor package to send you. MacCorkindale's late perplexities had put us all off our guard; and after calling every day except Tuesday last week, the parcel came upon us this afternoon half by surprise. So that there is none forthcoming to write, except myself (a wearied enough mortal at present), and my Mother who is busy writing you a note with a true heart, but with the pen of no ready writer. Our Father, who is here tonight, has engaged to take the parcel with him tomorrow morning early to the coach-office; so that you must be content for this time; one of these days, I will over to Mainhill, and rate the people for their negligence, and try by next opportunity to get more particular intelligence.

On the whole, as usual, there is no news. We are all well, our Mother I think better than she has been for several winters; and beyond this, there is nothing but empty clatter to be related of the aspect of things in general. Today was Rent-day at the Castle of Hoddam; our Father has been there, “fronting his Landlord” with his two purses, and returned home for this time to dine by his own fireside; for the Squire has utterly withdrawn the light of his countenance from this his once-favoured Agriculturist! Well-a-day! Well-a-day!

Of Scotsbrig farm there is nothing certain known yet; save a letter from the Manager of the concern to Carlyle of Waterbeck, expressing very favourable regard to his recommendation, and hopes that his Friend may get the place, if so be they can remove the present Tenant in time. He, the hapless Legatee Geordie Irving, once of Water-O'-Milk Bridge, it appears since, is hypothacatted, and actually to be put sub hasteam [at auction] this week, most probably on Thursday; soon after which it will be finally settled when he leaves the premises (for leave them he must, being “duin”), and also whether our clan is to replace him. By next parcel, I hope to send you stricter intelligence.

As to the house in Edinr, till this farm business is settled, it will be impossible to take any decisive step. I should like better to stay in the country till after harvest; especially as Brewster's silence indicates that there is nothing particular to be effected in Edinr (except it be the loss of health) till that season. Yet if Scotsbrig be not got, I see not well what else I am to do than come to Edinr, if I can get a good house, and things convenient. It might be worth while for you and Murray to go out some vacant day, even as matters stand, and explore the ground. You might then be able to tell me what is to be looked for, next time you wrote. There is one cottage, seemingly very like the thing, advertised in last week's Newspaper; but I forget its name, and have not time to look for the paper. “Between two stools the seat of a man falls to the ground”:1 between two houses, I wish this man may not find himself exposed to the inclement air, with nothing for his solace but two eaves-drops!

This package of manuscript completes the first volume, and begins the second; the latter with Tieck's Life, after which you will supply them with the manuscript I left with you. In the Trusty Eckart, at the very beginning of it, is a sheet of rhymes which will puzzle Ma Kork,2 I doubt. Would you try if you can read them; and bid the velocilingue [fast talker] apply to you with a proof of that leaf, should he be at a stand. I think the Mss. are arranged in the order they are to be printed in.— I am now busy in the Trampship:3 but must very soon, I suppose, take to writing Goethe's Life.

You are kind to inquire about my health: it is growing better, I think, from month to month [; and] at least in the country, this progressive im[prove]ment seems by no means impeded by a moderate portion of intellectual work. Larry is not sold: his behaviour of late has been so exemplary that we could not think of parting with him. It is true he stands on end every time he meets a four-wheeled carriage: but M. Rollin says, Socrates himself had faults. The beast cannot throw me with this bridle, and he runs like Mohomet's Alborak, the ass that rode from Bagdad to Heaven in a night.— I pared my thumb into the quick the other [day] and it is galling me like a hot ember fastened to [a part] of this hard pen. I must rest, and take the [one word covered by seal] leaf or rather scrap: they are all to-bed.

[In margins:] I was terribly frightened that the last parcel had been lost: it was sent by Carlisle.

Wrap the Newspaper tightly, or Postie will read it. Give my kind respects to Cron; and endeavour to get “command of your sentences”again as fast as possible. Sat, jam sat est [Enough, it is now enough]!