The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 27 April 1822; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18220427-TC-MAC-01; CL 2:96-98.


3. Moray-street, Saturday [27 April 1822].

My dear Mother,

I had just finished Sandy's epistle, and was in the act of going out to look after the Carrier, when the sound of three o'clock recalled me to the recollection of dinner, and I determined to postpone my departure till I had finished that important meal. Beef has not the character of being any great quickener of the intellectual powers; yet the time spent in discussing my cold joint has produced an alteration, & as I think an improvement, of great moment in my plans with regard to the Carrier Garthwaite, for such I now conjecture him to be. I have hired the smallest of imps, a little weazened child, to carry up this handbox for me, determining in the mean time to forego all thoughts of sending any box to-day but not to forego the pleasure of writing you a long letter. Part of my enterprise, you see, I am already executing.

You will find here a bonnet of Imperial chip or Simple chip, or Real chip1 or whatever it is, which I hope will arrive safely & be found to suit you. I think it looks like your head. I wish it were fifty times better, for your sake: it would still be the most feeble testimony of what I owe to your kind affection, which has followed me unweariedly thro' good & evil fortune, soothing & sweetening all the days of my existence, & which I trust Providence will yet long long continue for a blessing to us both.

I know you will fret about those things & talk about expense & so forth. This is quite erroneous doctrine: the few shillings, that serve to procure a little enjoyment to your frugal life, are as mere nothing in the outlay of this luxurious city. If you want any other thing, I do beg you would let me know: there is not any way in which I can spend a portion of my earnings so advantageously. Tell me honestly, Do you get tea and other things comfortably? I should be very sorry if you restricted yourself for any reason but from choice. It would be a fine thing surely, if you that have toiled for almost half a century in nourishing stalwart sons, should not now by their means have a little ease & comfort, when it lies in their power to gain it for you! I again entreat you, if you wish for any thing within the reach of my ability, to let me hear of it.

I have already, to Alick, described my way of life so fully, that I need not insist upon it farther at present. I am teaching, writing, reading, walking to & fro along the streets, smoking, eating—carrying on with all my heart. In due time, too, a Book will, I firmly trust, shew its face in the world: but on this topic I must not enlarge, “to gut fishere one gets them”2 being a very sorry practice. I intend doing my utmost; and unless those hideous fits of bile return, I have no fear that all will not prosper.

Fleming's people are very pleasant characters; I feel quite at home among them. The old man is a bit canty [cheerful] little fellow as you would desire to see, and talks very cheerfully & copiously. He proposed a situation of Schoolmaster in the Highlands (of £100 a year) the other night; for which I took the liberty of recommending James Johnstone, & I have accordingly written to Kirkcudbright about it. I am in hopes poor James will get it; and certainly it looks as if it would fit him exactly. Poor Mitchell is rather dangerously ill, they say: I pity him very cordially; for he is a good youth, and very soft in the heart; he will be in very low spirits.

I see Waugh here occasionally, but what to predict concerning him I do not know. He has absolutely no money—beyond a few shillings, which I paid him in advance for translating a few pages by way of specimen from the French book I am engaged with. He cannot borrow [tear in paper] cannot beg or dig, and what he is to do I really [dislike] to contemplate. For himself, he bears up amazingly; not so much out of firmness as insensibility, which I do think is the most sovereign thing on Earth for carrying one safely & calmly thro' this world.3 Waugh is determined to have a Physicians Degree; and keeps trusting blindly to the future, for every thing that he needs or even wishes. I never saw so much imprudence, or so hardly punished.

But I must leave Waugh & the whole Clanjeffray [low worthless lot] of them; for my paper is getting narrow, and the appointed hour is just upon the stroke. I entrust you with my affectionate remembrances to My Father, and all the family every one. They owe me letters now, which they cannot pay a minute too soon.— Bid the Carrier be sure to ask for the box next time he comes; it will be in readiness for him. At the present, I do not want any thing—I shall give you proper notice when I do.

Farewell my dear Mother! May all Good be with you always!

Your affectionate Son, /

Th: Carlyle—