January 1835-June 1836

The Collected Letters, Volume 8


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 24 December 1835; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18351224-TC-MAC-01; CL 8:277-279.


[24 December 1835]

My Dear Mother,— I walked over to Charles Buller today, and got this frank, which will be lying ready for you on Saturday, or whensoever, after that, you call. It was my promise that I would drop you a word so soon as anything clean came upon the sheets of the Book; and a little Chapter being got into that state, I keep my word. John's Letter,1 spick-and-span new the other day, and full of nothing but welcome tidings, is so much beyond bargain. You will find him very well; better off, I think, than any other of us whatsoever at this date; and fixed there till April, when we may again cherish the hope of seeing him, should all go well. He has even Practice, it would seem, and has made 420 francs (or Ten-pences) by that, about £20, better very considerably than making nothing. I had written to him; and my Letter would be in his hands some two days after his own came off.2 I think I shall wait now, having nothing that presses to tell him, till I hear again.

I got your three words, my dear Mother; and was right glad of them, in the absence of more. I assure you, I will be “canny”; nay I must, for a little overwork hurts me, and is found on the very morrow to be quite the contrary of gain. I have many a rebellious troublesome thought in me (proceeding not a little from ill-health of body); but I deal with them, as I best can, and get them kicked out. Pride! Pride! as I often say. It lies deep in me; deep, deep, and must be beaten out, were it with many stripes. If this Book were done, I feel all but quite clear for giving up Literature as a [trade—blur on page] whatsoever other I fall to. But for the present all this is neither one thing nor another to me. On, on with thy work! that is the one commandment; sufficient for the day!3— I see many good people here; and have indeed many a blessing, were I in the mood to make right use of them. The Young Clergyman John Sterling comes very much about me; and proves by far the loveablest man I have met for many a year. His speech always enlivens me; shortens the long walks we sometimes take. There is no day almost but I walk: the Streets, even when there is none with me, are amusing to look on, one does not readily weary.— I do not go much “out”; never to dinner when I can help it. Tea, again, suits me well enough: you take your tea at home, then fare out about seven or eight O'clock, drink one other cup of jute [weak tea], have some talk, often very rational and pleasant, and come home unharmed. I saw the Bullers that way one night; also Mill lately (who has been ill of some kind of fever); John Sterling with whom I saw that Evangelist the good Mr Dunn; &c &c. So passes the day in labour, the evening in some sort of amusement or light employment.— There is a Paper in the last North American Review, headed “Thomas Carlyle”; which treats of Teufelsdröckh: it is extracts mostly; good-natured, rather stupid: you will see it by and by. The man says, if I will come to America, I shall be sure of a welcome &c:4 America we will leave as the last shift; so long as the bowls will roll here at all in a tolerable way, I will keep on this side the water. It is a queer thing writing, in these days: you send a written sheet away from Craigenputtoch, and the answer to it comes back by and by over the Atlantic Ocean. They seem very good sort of people these Yankees,—at least to me.

Dear Mother, how do you fend in this hard weather, these short days? Do you keep a rousing fire from the new Coal-box? Mrs Welsh has the Book for you. The days will always be growing longer after this;—and times generally, never doubt it, will alter and even mend! We have the whole world to turn ourselves in; and it is the Almighty's world.— It will be another new year before you hear from me again. May the worst of our years be over! Good be with you and all of us; thro' this coming year,—thro' the endless Eternity which it brings us a step nearer.— You must very kindly remember me to Grahame when you meet him, and say I will write, were I farther on, a little. My respects to that speechless Infant, brotherly wishes to his father and mother. Jenny is charged with my messages to Alick. Do not forget Mary and her household: she can also tell Ann Cook's people that the lassie is well; hardy as a Highlander, full of assiduity, good nature, and wild Annandale savagery, which causes the Cockney mind here to pause astonished. Broader Scotch was never spoken or thought by any mortal in this Metropolitan City. Adieu dear Mother. Yours wholly,