The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 11 November 1819; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18191111-TC-JAC-01; CL 1:204-207.


Edinr11th November 1819—

My dear Brother,

At length I have leisure to devote a few minutes to the duty of detailing the particulars of my history, since our parting on the summit of Erock-stane.1 Shortly after that event, I overtook the inquisitive idiot & with him the home-bound ‘drover,’ when I had ignorantly mistaken for a trogger, and you for an ‘accursed palmer.’2 They journeyed with me to Tweed-hope-foot;3 but the conversation of these personages is very little worth repeating. The last words, which the natural spoke, were that it would be no rain to-day; and scarcely were they utterred, when a fall commenced, and lasted with little intermission, 'till a late hour of the evening. Wet weather is not good to travel in; no more, are dirty roads; but to every ill there is a worse; and I consoled myself by reflecting that had the wind been in my face, and the roads eighteen inches deep instead of two, my progress must have been suspended altogether. As things happened it was impeded merely; for between five & six o'clock, I arrived at Broughton-inn, tired indeed but scarcely wet, and whole in lith [joint] and limb. Many an anxious thought did I send after Jack and the cattle: but what did thoughts avail? I long to be informed that you got home without damage.— Broughton-inn, I take to be one of the worst in the British empire. The servants and the usual guests seem not to know cleanliness even by name; fire exists nowhere but in the kitchen, & were their victuals as nutritive as they are indigestible, a man might fatten on a meal per day— Tired of smoking in silence, I asked for a bed before seven o'clock, and having with some dexterity contrived to hang my clothes upon two perches that arose from the bottom of my only chair—sad remnants of a back that had belonged to it many years ago, I lay down upon a bed which if not so clean, was yet a little (tho' but a little) softer than the oaken couches, used in the days of good Queen Bess. So I slept soundly till four o'clock. Not to trouble you farther with unimportant particulars, it will be enough to add that I baited at Noblehouse;4 and, after a not very uncomfortable walk, reached this old city, yesterday about three o'clock. Mrs Duff had a room empty, but which could not be let till after eight days. Unable to find another lodging to my mind, I slept in her house, and after break-fast, renewed my search (this morning) for a comfortable up-putting. I was in many rooms of various qualities; and at last after investigating all circumstances, I am seated in the back-room of a Mrs Thomson (wife of a Tailor) which I rent at the rate of 6/ per week, fire included. This person seems to have a good character in the neighbourhood; & from the few symptoms, I have yet been able to observe, it appears likely that I shall be very snug here. The room is not large, but it is clean,—and the neat little landlady says it is perfectly free of smoke & of most detested bugs.

Thus, my dear Jack, have I written for thy friendly perusal, a full account of my transactions up to this date. The Waffler (well he deserves that nom de guerre!) is not yet come to town; so that being unable to transact any business, I have full leisure to reflect upon every part of my condition. Pretty strong in body & capable, as I know, of vigorous effort, I am far from despairing. However, as I have nothing new to tell you upon this subject, I forbear to discuss it farther for the present. Let us be contented, my bonny boy, prudent, active, resolute in improving every advantage which our situation affords—and moderate success is hardly doubtful.

9 o'clock. P.M.

After an interval of 5 hours, spent in reading the Edinr Review and executing various commissions, I resume my lucubrations. The unhappy carrier is not come. What can it be that keeps him? Is his steed foundered—or himself overpowered with liquor? Alas! poor Rose!5

At this time, I guess, Alick and the rest of you are seated around the room-fire—each pursuing his respective study. Good luck to you all! Be diligent and you will not miss your reward. Tell the small childer that I expect copies from them all, next box,—letters from all that have any powers of diction, and have advanced beyond the strokes in the art of writing.

Having scarcely spoken to any one since my arrival, I have none of that much-coveted commodity, news, to send you. The burghers of this city are, for most part, minding their private affairs; and the few of them who take any share in public transactions, are occupied, as elsewhere, in talking about the massacre of Manchester,6 and the foolish Carlile's7 conduct at his trial. The distress under which the universal kingdom suffers seems not to be felt in Edinr—to the extent that it is likely ere long to reach. Already however there is much poverty among the lowest orders; and the issue of this crisis seems anxiously anticipated by all. For the rest, dandies and cattle of that stamp are still in considerable force; but you & I have other things to do than take up our time with them.

Have you got Hume yet? Does Geo: Johnston come to get his French lesson from you? Try the Latin, if he come: you are sure to make progress in it; most probably it will turn to good account for you, and any way, it is a wholesome adage that says: Can do is easily carried about with one. Again let me renew my often repeated desire that you will punctually attend to your writing. I must send your lines— unless I forget—as I did to give you the money last Tuesday 'till I was several miles from you, when it was utterly useless to deplore my negligence. Send me your copy to inspect any way

I finish, / My dear Jack, / with subscribing myself / thy affectionate brother, /

Thomas Carlyle—