The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 26 February 1828; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18280226-TC-AC-01; CL 4:329-331.


21. Comley Bank, Tuesday Morning [26 February 1828].

My Dear Alick,

I have sat down here, before breakfast, and cut away part of this sheet for the purpose, if possible, of defrauding his Majesty of eightpence-half-penny; believing it to be an overcharge on the part of his Majesty; and also that the single postage will suit you better. I fear still that we may not be able to manage this latter point. But in any case, you will receive the Twenty Pounds,1 which I here inclose for you (part of earnings from the London Foreign Review); and I trust it may partly reli[e]ve you from your ‘straitened circumstances,’2 which indeed are a hard enough concern.

I fear you would not get the Letter I sent last Tuesday, but that you may still find it waiting for you tomorrow, with all our news untold, and our cry for butter unappeased. Doubtless, however, the little Missus will lose no time in satisfying us, if it lie in her power.— I have nothing farther, under this state of matters, to tell you of ourselves; for nothing new has happened; I am still scribbling as diligently as I can; and growing more and more impatient, as is my wont, to be done with scribbling. The rest of us are all well; and in our usual state of occupation.

I had a Letter yesterday from our Bavarian Doctor: it came to Dr Brewster, by a private hand, among some philosophical papers; and at first we knew not well what to make of the Melrose post-mark, and the reduced rate of post-charges; and supposed the Doctor might have taken leg-bail from Munich, and be lying squatted, somewhere in the East Country. But no: the beloved Mr Greatheart3 is still in his old quarters, dissecting, speculating, reading; in fair health and spirits, only very anxious to hear from us, my last letter not having yet come to hand. He longs especially for some message from you, and is ‘afraid his letter may never have reached you.’ It were well, if you had any time, to write to him: I here send you his address, which you will write on several lines as I mark them: Doctor Carlyle / Bey dem Herrn R. R. Freyherrn von Eichthal / in München / Bayern /. You may also write ‘Germany’ on some part of the letter for the information of British postmasters. But what is more important is that you take the letter to the post-office, and pay some halfcrown or so for it, without which it will not leave Britain, or even Dumfries. Choose a large sheet, and the thinnest you can get, for in Germany it pays by [weig]ht. And so send the worthy Greatheart all your news.

I ought now to tell you when I am coming down. If you [have] anything to say against my coming down very soon, then write me next Wednesday, and appoint the time. If not then expect a Letter from me this day fortnight; and therein I will specify the day, when I am to arrive at Templand; and you can send over Larry, and I will canter on the back of that ill-conditioned brute over to you next morning. For the present, why should I attempt cramming into short space what I shall soon have an opportunity of discussing in all its breadth and length?— I rejoice to hear of that infatuated mortal's letting his ligget [gate] go down, and so saving one the trouble of brashing it [breaking it down]. Have you done anything to the reek, or is it still raging as in Mount Vesuvius? I hope and pray that it may be subdued speedily and utterly.— There is no farther tidings of St. Andrews: indeed we expect to hear none, for a month or two. I am still in as good expectation, and still as indifferent about it as ever. For the rest, my Dear Alick, keep a good heart, and let neither this nor that in the warfare of existence too much depress you. It is a great truth that the thing which most cuts and grieves one at the present moment, will in twenty years most probably be matter of entire indifference. There is nothing really and permanently important, except a ‘conscience void of offense.’4— I must leave the small remnant of this sheet to Jane and Mag. Write, as I have said, or expect me to write. I am ever, My dear Alick, Your true Brother— T. Carlyle.

[Postscript by Jane Carlyle, TC's sister:] My dear Mary. It is a long time since I heard of you and still longer since I saw you. I think we must establish a regular communication tho it were only on the small scale; for you must tell me all your proceedings, at the Craig, good or bad. how do you like the moor in wintre? do you still retire into your little parlour with the goodman and spend your quiet evenings in friendly chat? You must also tell something about that chasm in a certain quarter which I have heard heard [sic] is none of the most factual, or hopeless. give my love to our brother; is he still as busy as ever: I daresay he is or perhaps busier as the servants seem to be indifferent but I hope he is well. But I see notwithstanding of my small type that my room is drawing to a close. I trust however I shall hear of you soon. Tom & Jane send their kindest to you. no more can be said here my dear Mary but that I love you still and am ever your affect sister

Jane Carlyle

[TC:] By the bye! I had all but forgot to tell you to send the Minister5 to Mrs Welsh, who is ready and willing to settle with him, or ‘meet him in any court in Britain.’— Send word to Scotsbrig about Jack, if you have any opportunity: his letter is dated 6th Feby. Breakfast is here; so I must go. Adieu!