The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 4 December 1821; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18211204-TC-AC-01; CL 1:402-404.


Edinr4th Decr 1821—

My dear Brother,

I have about half an hour in which to scribble you a few lines; and I gladly devote it to your service. Only I fear there is little probability that this epistle will do more for you in the way of information than the last did—seeing I must write it in a period of the greatest hurry, at a stranger's house (the house of George Dalgliesh), and placed so that I am obliged, every second instant, to turn over my shoulder and talk to that celebrated Jurisconsult.— The fact is, I have very little that is fresh to communicate. Since I wrote last, my life has glided on idly, I doing nothing—except perhaps read a little—and waiting patiently for some final arrangement about a Lodging. There never was the like of this! I have been three weeks here now, and never in a home, or aught resembling a home. The first room would not do, and was indeed let to another; the second of the woman Simm's proved intolerably cold, and was let—at the easy rate of 12 shillings a week. Then Mrs Swan (the good body of whom I wrote to my Mother) talked of boarding me; and she had to correspond with the people of Kirk[c]aldy on the subject, and to talk and arrange—and in brief, to detain me above a week in waiting. So that (would you believe it?) I am only settled in a permanent lodging about an hour ago! This is the cause of my hurry. The room I have got, I call permanent; for I imagine it will answer, tho' it is confoundedly dear—no less than 9/6 per week: but I could not make a better of it, and as I liked the physiognomy of the Landlady I brigued and haggled with her till she came down from 12/ to this sum. I threw in my luggage forthwith; and having to go into the old Town for a book, I took shelter in the Jurist's to write you this most beggarly scrawl—for Garthwaite is going out almost presently, and this spot is about a mile nearer him than my lodging. Excuse all blunders, My dear Alick, and write me very largely next time: The address is Mrs Sherlock's 9. Jamaica-street,—directly below where I have lived all this time—only in front and two stairs nearer the ground. It looks warm and very clean and snug—I shall not hear the poor Consumptive girl; and the air about it is incomparably the best in Edinr. Therefore I doubt not I shall be comfortable in it.

My employments, you may well suppose, are nearly in the state they were a month ago. Ad-a-rat-eet [drat it]! they shall not be so long now. I am teaching an hour, as the dogs call it,—and have another at my option—if it will suit. Also Swan's boy—whom I am going to attend daily,—for his father's sake. But teaching is not the thing I want—I must live by another implement in the mean time:—and for the future—I tell you Alick, there must be something done—something great—if I should perish in att[ain]ing it. “Then, then, ye sturdy ploughmen, our song a[nd] feast shall flow to the fame &c[.]”

My dear Brother, I feel my heart melted, when I think of you all at home, and how you have loved me, and borne with me. I trust you will not have cause to repent that you have done so.— My Father and Mother are very good to be delighted with so small a matter; I wish it were a greater for their sake. It gives me great pleasure to learn that you are all so calm & happy at Mainhill: continue to progress along your solid honest course, and every thing will be as it should. What length are you in Cobbett? Stick to it stoutly: you cannot fail to master it. Look what you are now and what you were two years ago! Perseverance will absolutely master “almost any thing.”

What ails all the wee things that they do not write to me? Mag and Jemmy & Mary & Jane & all of them? They must write next time. Yourself by all means.— Will you ask Jack to look among the German books for “Don Karlos”1 and to send it? There are two books in the box for him. I am ever,

Your's from the heart, /

Thos Carlyle

I do wish my Father would write.