The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 12 January 1822; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18220112-TC-MAC-01; CL 2:5-7.


3. Moray-street, 12th Jany 1822.

My dear Mother,

I have not only finished my Father's letter, but also discussed my dinner—of more wholesome materials I trust than the las[t] was; and I now gladly address myself to you. Few things in the world give me greater pleasure than to hear from you or write to you: the thought of a kind Mother is dearer to every human heart than aught beside; & when at a distance, the echo of her feelings comes home to one with a livelier sensibility than their direct expression when present. I trust many many years of this precious intercourse are yet reserved for us; and happier ones than some of the past have been.

But to business!— I must thank you for all the rarities you have sent, in the shape of eatables and wearables: all are highly acceptable; all came safely to hand. The eggs, packed so honestly as they were, arrived quite unharmed. I shall eat them regularly to breakfast; they agree with my silly maw; and one needs some nourishment in these hard times. You will see that I have sent home all my foul clothes. I cannot get them well washed here: the landlady's pump gives only water as hard as vinegar, so her washing powers are under a cloud; and yet she is the best hand I have tried here. You get infinitely too much fash [bother] with me: but I cannot help it.

It is needless to say that I participate in the enjoyment you derive from the continuance of health; a blessing, which, in this singularly unwholesome winter, I am more than usually happy to be assured, continues with you, in some moderate degree. Be thankful; and to shew your thankfulness, be careful! For my own share, I ought not to complain much either. This room of mine is very excellent in almost all respects. The air is next to perfectly pure, the place is quiet very quiet; and the landlady is among the best I have ever had. If she be a particle less careful than old Mrs Robertson, she is equally clean, and far blither, because far healthier and happier.

With all these advantages of an external kind, and many more of an internal kind, it were a shame to be quite unwell. Accordingly I do not ail much. Every night I usually get a moderate sleep; and tho' my stomach is never absolutely in good humour, yet by the aid of a little medicine, I contrive to make it get thro' its work in some shape, and that unutterable nervousness which I laboured under while at home and far worse before, is now in a great measure gone. I can think and feel like other people; my heart is again become a heart of flesh; and the grime is gradually vanishing from the mirror of the mind. By and by, it will be bright as a new-scoured tankard, or as Will Boggs'1 boots; and I shall see all things clearly as I was wont. My dear Mother, never be uneasy on my account! I tell you I am going to become a very 'sponsible character yet, and a credit to the whole parish. Seriously, I have better hopes than ever I had,—considerably better.

I know not whether you have heard of Irving's journey to London. He went thither, about three weeks ago, by special request, to close a bargain with the directors of a Scotch Chapel2 there, as to becoming their minister. I believe he has produced a great impression; and is likely (if certain legal formalities can be got rid of) to become their pastor under very favourable auspices, and to earn a vast renown for himself and do much good among the religious inhabitants of the Metropolis. There are not ten men living that deserve it better. His journey is also likely to prove of some consequence to me. A Lady of a great Indian Judge, obliged at present to come home for his health's sake,—one Mrs Buller heard Irving preach, and without farther introduction called upon him next day to talk about the education of her two sons; now at a noted school near London, Harrow on the Hill. It was settled that they were to go to Edinr; and I was proposed as their Tutor with a yearly fee of £200, and good accommodations in the house. The woman he says is a gallant accomplished person and will respect me well. He warned her that I had seen little of life, and was disposed to be rather high in the humour, if not well used. She agreed to send the boys into some family in Town for three months, till her husband and she could themselves come; and wished me to take charge of them in the mean time, any way;—for altogether if we should suit each other. I accepted the offer: and shall get fifty pounds for my quarter's work, however it prove. The place if I like it and be fit for it, will be advantageous for me in many aspects. I shall have time for study, and convenience for it, and plenty of cash. At the same time, as it is uncertain, I do not make it my bower-anchor, by any means. If it go to pot altogether, as it well enough may, I shall snap my finger and thumb in the face of all the Indian judges of the Earth, and return to my poor desk and quill, with as hard a heart as ever.— But you see I am over with it for a time; and must withdraw abruptly. Write whenever you can. I am ever,

My dear Mother's true son, /

Thos Carlyle.