The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 29 March 1820; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18200329-TC-AC-01; CL 1:234-236.


Edinr, 29th March, 1820—

Many thanks, My dear Alick, for your agre[e]able & entertaining letter. As usual I have little time to tell you how the kind and hearty spirit which it breathes affects me; or to delineate in return the main features of my own condition. Our (not winged) messenger consigned to me your packets, at a time when I was forced to visit the library; a lecture on “the diligence of poinding”1 succeeded; then a morsel of beef-steak,—and after all these surprising achievements—here I sit with a scrap of paper on my desk—and a pen that must travel over it, and others like it, in the brief space of an hour and a half—under hazard of missing the conveyance. Upon the whole, however, it is not perhaps any great matter that I must be brief: there is nothing passing in these parts of an interesting nature; and my own situation has undergone no material or immaterial alteration since I wrote last. When I have told you that I am actually in good health, and added (what indeed might safely be omitted) that I am delighted to hear that you are all so likewise,—the most important part of my commission will be executed.

You and my other affectionate friends at Mainhill are very kind to press me so urgently to come home. I shall not forget this speedily. The word home is sweet to a Scottish ear: and I should be the most unthankful soul on earth, if I did not gratefully reflect, that among all my wants & disappointments, I have yet Parents & brethren left, with whom I can repose for a season—and forget, in the midst of sincere affection, liberty & vernal breezes, the smoke & stir2 of this dull world— Of late I have been meditating to come home; last summer was of very great importance to me, and had I some stated job of work to keep me in employment, and drive away ‘the vultures of the mind’3—I could spend the approaching months among you with great advantage. I was happy at Mainhill, happier upon the whole than I have been in general since my boyhood; and tho' we, degenerate posterity of Adam4 as we are, have in our hearts a fund of aloes that would chequer even the felicity of Eden, I hope to be happy there again. Before writing I expected to have it in my power to give you some satisfactory account of the chance I have to get a translation or other business of the like stamp to manage in my rustication; and when the box arrived I was busy writing the lives of Sir J. Moore & his father Dr Moore, in order that upon presenting them to Brewster to-morrow I might make some inquiries as to this matter. What my success may be I shall be better able to tell you next opportunity; in the meantime I have some hope—I anticipate [plea]sure if I succeed—rising early—evening & cracks [talks]—Duncan's worthier representation (I mean the steed Duncan) and many things more arise before the fancy: but if I should fail, as much doubt there is—seeing ‘the best concerted schemes of mice & men gang aft aglee’5—I shall not altogether droop. With health, I can turn me many ways—and I hope completely to recover that blessing— Dr Brewster tells me that for 15 years he was at death's door; & now in his 42nd 6 year he is perfectly well. After these lives above referred to, I have none to write but those of Necker and Admiral Nelson, which will not be needed for 6 months. A review for Brewster's philosophical journal of a German book on Magnetism,7 I must also write or say I cannot—the former alternative is better: and then (as our man of Law concludes in a few days) I am my own master to go whithersoever I list. I shall make a violent effort to accomplish all these things:—and come home with a french or latin book under my arm. Home any way—

I expect earnestly to see what are your opinions regarding Hume.— Poor Carruthers! the strong and the weak alike wither at the touch of Fate.8—Write to me at large, & believe me to be, My dear Brother,

Your's most faithfully, /

Thomas Carlyle