The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 26 January 1820; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18200126-TC-MAC-01; CL 1:225-226.


Edinr26th January 1820.

My dear Mother,

Tho' you have not favoured me with a line, this great while; yet as I have still a few minutes left, I take the opportunity thus afforded me of sending you some small account of my proceedings.

You will doubtless think me a very trustless person for taking no farther notice of the philanthropic gazette, which I promised to get for you. The truth is, the poor drivelling bookseller, about whom I spoke, hampered & hummed so piteously last time I broached the subject, that I took compassion on his indecision and left the subject at rest. I am very sorry that you should be disappointed in this matter: but after all, I do not think very highly of the gazette in question; and the Repository seems to be a better book in several respects.1 If you want any publication that I can procure do not fail to tell me, and it shall be forth-coming. Anything that I can ever do to serve you must lie far behind what I have owed to you since the earliest days of my existence.

The cakes you sent came in good season, their predecessors having been concluded two or three days ago. I was also glad to see the butter; for the first excellent pot came to an end soon after Farish's [Farries'?] last visit to this city. The stuff which they sell here under the name of butter has few titles, often, to that honourable epithet. The main ingredient is sea-salt; the rest a yellow sour-tasted substance, which whether it ever actually existed in the shape of milk, I cannot determine.— I am likewise obliged by the pieces of meat: but tho' I have sent home the meal-poke, its contents are not exhausted—a portion of them yet remains, in some jar or other, for future consumption.

Having now discussed these small matters, I must proceed to make some enquiries about your actual situation. And first of health—I entreat you, my dear Mother, to be careful of that greatest of blessings. Do not expose yourself on any account in this intemperate weather: you are not calculated to stand it. Indeed its effects are pernicious to any one; but much more to one in your situation. When you write, I expect to hear very minutely about every thing pertaining to you. Do you ever recollect our evening-meals, in the little room, during the last, to me unusual but not unhappy summer?

I have already told the callants [youngsters] that I am in a good state of health; therefore I need not enlarge upon this point. My way of life is very simple. I see few acquaintances; those I might see are not without good qualities, but their conversation cannot benefit m[e] greatly: so I devote my time to reading—all but two or three difft portions of it which are daily spent in walking. Whether I shall succeed in this undertaking of law, must depend on several circumstances. Providence, as you have often told me, will regulate them. Meanwhile let no malignant person put you in fear about my future destiny. With health, which I hope to enjoy, and with a frugal disposition, which I am pretty sure of enjoying, there is no room to fear.— You must write to me whenever you can find time. Remember me to my Father and all the rest about home.

I remain, / My dear Mother, / Your's most affectionately /

Thos Carlyle.

I have been scribbling with so bad a pen that you will scarcely be enabled to read the inclosed observations. I have (or rather it has) blotted several passages too—but Jack will help you.