The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 18 July 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260718-TC-JAC-01; CL 4:113-115.


Scotsbrig, Tuesday-night [18 July 1826]—

My Dear Jack,

You bid me write to you very minutely, and to do it is beyond my power, for the old reasons, haste and slowness: Alick takes this to Dumfries with him tomorrow morning, and at present it is on the verge of midnight.

We are all well, and things are well enough about us. We have had a rainy fortnight, but still not nearly enough of rain. The thunderstorms passed far over our heads; and send down nothing hurtful or even extraordinary except a few hailstones. The crops are the worst ever seen within the memory of man; ours too is bad, but much better than most of our neighbours': so we do not complain. Mainhill is flourishing; and barley will be cut there in a day or two. Church of Mainholm was reaping a week ago: the like was never known. Here we shall have nothing to cut till you come down to us.—— To change the subject—turn over

I am within four dayswork of the end of this Fixlein, and so shall have done on Saturday, if I work; which however is not certain; for I have deranged myself of late with too close sitting; I have not even written to Haddington for three weeks. This Fixlein is considerably inferior to Schmelzle,1 which indeed I look upon as combining in a high degree the qualities of marketableness and intrinsic excellence. Nevertheless Fixlein also must do; and in a few days, I shall wash my hands of the whole affair; and turn, I hope, to something better.

I long somewhat to see your Thesis: the bruit of it has come down even to Annandale; and your fellow Doctors2 are envious or eulogistic of your attainments. This, I daresay, will not make you vain; for both you and I in the midst of all our literary triumphs, have constantly remembered, like Richard Macgub when made Deacon of Weavers at Dumfries, “that we are men of like passions with yourselves, gentlemen.” Nevertheless, it is all good and fair; and if a man cannot feel satisfied a little, in conquering all the obstacles between him and an object he has long been struggling towards, and attaining it triumphantly, he will scarcely take satisfaction in anything here below.—They are all longing to see you, and asking me twenty times weekly: “But whan's Aikin comin haim?”

My late letters have been little better than Letters of Horning3 to you; so many heavy duties have they laid on your shoulders. I must still trouble you a little farther, tho' it will soon be done now. You looked out Gymnasium for me in some dictionary, and found that there were six teachers. Richter hints that there are eight. I have on this principle found out Quintus—to be the fifth teacher from the bottom, and third from the top; Quartus and Tertius he also uses but Primus and Secundus I nowhere find. Kantor or Cantor (singer) seems to be the title of one of the latter. On these principles I have manufactured a Note, which M'Cork will give you when it is printed, to exercise your judgement on. Will you look out Gymnasium (tell me in what Dictionary) again; and Kantor and Rector, Conrector, and Subrector? In the cour[s]e of these Articles, you will surely find the secret of it; and reconcile my Richter-nose with your dictionary which is all I want. If you cannot, then copy me what it said about Gymnasium (the ribs of it); and as to the rest do not mind them, for I know them already. Can you find me out Pansterkette, Streck-teich, Besetz-teich (stretch-pond, store-pond)? If not never mind; for I can do without them.4

I declare it is quite shameful to plague a Graduatus, and so honest a youth, with these things: but what can I help it?— I will tell you next time when I am coming, and whether you will meet me here or there. I am ever your Brother,

T. Carlyle

[In margins:] No news of “S. Lewis,”5 tho' I asked. The newspaper did not come till today: I thought the quarter has been done, and that we were to see no more of it.— The Joiners begin repairing this house, about the end of the week. Our father is here tonight. Adieu