The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO JOHN A CARLYLE; 16 May 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260516-TC-JAC-01; CL 4:94-97.


Hoddam Hill, Tuesday [16? May 1826]—

My Dear Jack,

I am going to send you as short a letter as your own; a thing perhaps less excuseable in me, seeing there are so many topics here, on which you desire information. As usual, business is the reason. When I have told you that we are all well, I have exhausted the chief substance of my commission.

As thou sayest, Jack, it is a very cursed thing that one cannot get lived without Litigation. This time however, we have gained the day. Geordie has been decreted against, interlocutored, interdicted, and I know not what all, since I wrote; our men were just a week off at Scotsbrig; and three days ago, they had the gratifying tidings that a Precept of Removal had gone forth from His Majesty's Sheriff Depute against the said George Irving, Hallanshaker [ragged tramp] in Scotsbrig; decerning in substance that Geordie was to pay all and sundry damages and costs, and to be dadded [driven] out of doors by the kings constables (Corn Ball and knell-kned [knock-kneed] Davie) directly after twelve of the clock on whitsunday1 in case he had not volutarily dadded himself out some time therebefore. So I believe this thing is terminated. For the rest, all hands are busy at Scotsbrig; and tho' somewhat behind, not quite out of sight of their goal. They commence potato-planting tomorrow. Here then, Jack, is lodging for us yet, let hard come to hard. So be of good cheer!

Do you expect the Baron2 back? He is gone I know not whither, for the name of his destination was irretrievably torn out by the wafer.3 On the whole, I think no solid good will come of him; but you can see him out; and after all I shall not be sorry, if this prove the issue. Fear nothing, Jack! I durst bate ta [bet you] a hundred guineas thou wilt be a man of stamp and substance yet, before all is over. This is no vain talk, but true persuasion. Let us be thankful for it.

Is the Examination coming on? And does no palpitation at the heart seize thee?4 Is the Botany begun? How does Broughton-street do? It will be noisy, I think but otherwise far preferable to the last quarters. I am nearly sure thy money must be verging to inanity: I have never been down at Annan yet; but thou shalt have fi'pun [a £5 note] with the Targer to keep the sluices open; and write by the post, if thou want any sooner. The Targer expects to come in a week.

Make Murray get thee a ticket; and do thou go and hear the General Assembly. Tell Murray that I shall make farther inquiries about Stewart Lewis' poems,5 but I doubt somewhat if they are attainable here. His son was at Mainhill, the other day; contented, ragged, talkative, didactic as ever: he had got an old “Fair Helen” about Bathgate; which he said money would not make him part with; seeing it was all of “Stooart Loous” that he had.

Waugh is supposed to be living at the King's Arms Dumfries; generally reputed by the natives of that burgh a gentlemen troubled in mind. God help him—and us too; for we have all foolishness enough and to spare, in us.

These Books are sent as accurately as if I had been standing on the other side of Fleischer's counter, when he packed them up. I hope Julius6 will not send his: it was to Tait they were directed. In two weeks or so, I shall have some copy ready. Most of the works will do very well, I think; only Maler Müller I dread somewhat, and yet I cannot want him. I intend to begin with Richter. By the way, can you by any means discover for me the day when he died?7 It will surely be in the monthly lists of any Magazine; about October or so. Communicate with Tait. Also, will you look for me in the Conversationslexicon, what a Quintus8 (fifth?) is? It is some degree in German pedagogy I believe: but what? Find out for me if you can.

I am neither better nor worse in health, and I expect little change till this Book be done. Our Mother is in despair at your want of accommodation; this very day, by the road to Waterbeck, where she is at present with Mag, buying gowns, she determined to make the most rigorous inquest after carriers, and get things ready for the very first chance. She is not at Mainhill or within the reach of these things, or she would have sent you a box had it gone by the Mail.— Those Books on Saturday were just 2/8; 6d dearer than a feather would be!— Expect a box soon.

Johnston9 the minister is placed, and settled beside Saunders the ancient clock-work mercantile gentleman in the Manse. I call him clockwork, because few clocks are so regular; he rises, sleeps, eats and evacuates, it would seem, in a way that it is difficult for others to conform to. Johnston seems tired of him: Johnston however is a goodnatured ma[n]. He was here last night with a whole host of retainers: they drank weak tea, and talked, the Targer and I being chief speakers. The youth is a well-conditioned youth; modest and cheerful; but as yet of little culture or parts. Wull of Howcleugh says he preaches “bombast”: as to this I can bear no testimony. Taylor is growing more and more drunken.

But alas Jack the hour of tea is come, and I must go and set the “kittle a' bailing mum”; after which I shall drink your health in Chinese essence and then conclude. For the present good b'ye!—

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