The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 25 December 1821; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18211225-TC-AC-01; CL 1:416-418.


Edinr, 25th December 1821

My dear Alick,

If the very trite observation, that nothing is stationary here below, required any comment, a better one could hardly anywhere be found than my late operations in regard to getting Lodgings. Last time I wrote I mentioned that I thought the place in College-street would do. Alas! I reckoned without my Host. That very night after I had written, I was aroused by innumerable disturbances overnight, and slept no wink till far in the morning; next night was worse; and when the morning dawned, I seemed fast progressing into that state of horrible nervousness, from which a long residence at Home had with difficulty only in part delivered me. There is no misery out of the Pit of Darkness equal to that of being aroused from sleep—perhaps by some drunken blackguard, trolling his obscence catch, as he staggers along the street—just at the very instant, when the balmy god is shedding his sweet influence over your exhausted frame. The feeling around one's heart is as if you had planted fifty daggers there all in a moment; and the burning tremor that ensues extends to every fibre of the body. I speak, of course, of nervous persons, poor hypochondriacs, with whose agonising sensations, a sound plump husbandman is happily secure from having the remotest sympathy.— I pondered all these things with no very placid anticipations; and taking into view along with them, the worse than Stygian vapour in which all the Old Town of Edinburgh is almost constantly involved; considering also the sorry entertainment I was like to get from the honest but broken-hearted and overworked Cusines; I unwillingly determined to renew the grievous but now alas! too customary search for fresh lodgin[g]s. After great perambulations, I found a place between Edinburgh and Leith, in many respects exactly suited to my taste. The street lies behind Leith-Walk, and parallel to it; and as I occupy the back part of the house, I hear less noise than I could do in almost any part of the city. And then for air— Mainhill itself is but a shade better: I have green fields beneath my very window;1 and nothing else between me and the Forth. The landlady too is a very cleanly, heartsome little body, who keeps a quiet well-ordered house, having no family, but a boy about five, who does not annoy me much, and a brother, whom I scarcely ever hear. The rent is 8/ per week; and I have two very elegant rooms for the money. My health is considerably restored since I came to the place; and I am as good as determined to continue permanently here. So I do hope, My dear Alick, that this most tedious topic of lodgings will now be finally discussed between us, for one season any way. I have tired you with an account of all my removals and all my motives for them; because tho' tiresome, I know it is not indifferent to you. Be at rest in regard to me henceforth: in this fine quiet air, enjoying too the advantage of a walk before breakfast (for I am going to make that arrangement with my teaching), being also fortunate in the certainty of abundant employment, and possessing various other sources of comfort which I had not previously, I am warranted to expect a confirmed return of health, and with it of every blessing which a man has reason to hope for in this vale of tears, thro' which [it] is our [fa]te to wander—oft in darkness, sometimes in desponden[cy], but if in purity and firm principle—sure of a peaceful bed of rest awaiting us at the end. I know nothing, My dear boy, that can make life tolerable, but being virtuous ourselves, and being loved by virtuous people. I speak not of sots, who have nothing in them but a stomach: we are not of such. And is it not a glad thought for us all, that, we love one another, will always love one another, and feel assured that each of us will act in his proper station as the rest and he himself would wish it? For me there is no greater comfort in the world. Long may we all enjoy it!

But the fatal last page warns me to have done with such speculations. The purpose of my writing is not yet answered; and I must bestir me in it. The object, of course, was to give you my address. It is 3. Moray-street, Leith-Walk (Wilkie's Lodgings): and what I wish you to notice particularly is the excellent convenience the place affords for communication with Home. Moray-street is within a catspring from [the r]oad our carriers follow in going down to Leith; so they can bring the box to the very door, without any charge of porterage, which is often almost equal to the whole other charges. Tell Garthwaite (I have already told Farries) that Moray-street is immediately on his left hand (going down) after he has come thro' Leith-Walk Toll-bar. He can leave the box as he goes down, and call for it as he goes up again.— My paper is done, boy: but not my love of chatting to you.

I am ever, / Your affectionate Brother /

Th. Carlyle