The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 2 June 1822; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18220602-TC-MAC-01; CL 2:125-127.


3. Moray-street, 2nd June 1822.

My dear Mother,

I feel I am going to be very hurried, yet I cannot let slip this opportunity of scribbling you a few lines however brief & insufficient to let you know the state of my affairs for some time; and to thank you for these new proofs of your constant attention to me.— I hushed a great many things into the Box, which however you need be in no haste to send back, as I am sufficiently provided by the supplies of to-day. Perhaps it were better to send merely letters by Farries next time; & to bid him call for the little Box to carry home with him, seeing it is of a more reasonable size than the one I sent. I need no more socks &c at present, having purchased three pair the other night, which together with yours make up a very reasonable stock. I gave 1/4 a pair for them—dear I suppose—for they are thin as nets, but cool & agreeable in this warm weather. I hope Shaw will not neglect the shoes I wr[o]te to Jack about: I shall soon want them.

These matters of business being adjusted, I proceed to give you some sketch of my way of doing at present, in which I know you ever feel a tender & truly motherly interest. It will give you pleasure to know that I continue progressively improving in that most important of qualities, good health. The bathing does me great good; and you need be under no apprehensions of my drowning; for the bottom is smooth shelving sand or pebbles, I stay but a moment in the water, and never go near the end of my depth: besides I swim if need were, which is not. Unfortunately my mode of sleeping is too irregular to admit of my bathing constantly before breakfast; tho' I manage this often, and almost always go some time in the day. Small noises disturb me, and keep me awake tho' I always get to sleep at last; and happily such disturbances occur but rarely. Some two weeks ago, I had a little adventure with an ugly messin, which a crazy half-pay Captain had thought proper to chain in his garden or rather grass-plot, about twenty yards from my window. The pug felt unhappy in its new situation; began repining very pitifully in its own way—at one time snarling grinning yelping as if it cared not whether it were hanged then or to-morrow—at another whinging [whimpering] howling squealing as if it meant to excite the compassion of the Earth at large— This at intervals for the whole night. By five o'clock in the morning, I would have given a guinea of gold for its hind legs, firm in my right hand, by the side of a stone-wall. Next day the crazy Captain removed it, being threatened by the street at large with prosecution if he did not: but on the evening of the second day, growing tired of keeping the cur in his own kitchen, he again let it out; and just as I was falling asleep about one o'clock, the same musical—“most musical most melancholy”1—serenade aroused me from my vague dreamings. I listened about half a[n] hour; then rose indignantly, put on my clothes, went out & charged the watchman to put an instant stop to that accursed thing; the watchman could not for the world interfere with a gentleman's rest at that hour, but next morning, he would certainly &c; I asked to be shown the door, and pulling the crazy Captains bell most powerfully about six times, his servant at length awoke, and inquired with a tremulous voice, What was it? I alluded to the Dog, and demanded the instant, the total, the everlasting removal of it, or to-morrow I would see whether justice were in Edinr or the shadow of British law in force. “Do you hear that?” said the Irish knight of the ratch [iron rasp] & lanthorn; She heard it & obeyed; and no wretched messin has since disturbed my slumbers. This it is to be ill-natured!—

You ask about my home-coming; but this must be a very uncertain story for a while. I cannot count on any such thing till Legendre be done, and the Buller people arrived; and in the event of my engaging with the latter, my period of absence must of course b[e brief.] However there is good & cheap conveyance to Dumfries daily, and it shall go hard if I do not steal a week or so to spend at Home.

I was in Glasgow some time ago, seeing Irving and all the rest of them. It was during this period that Mr Lawson called on me, & found me not: present my best thanks & services to him for so doing. They have been holding their General Assembly here the other week, had Dr Chalmers among them &c: I did not see any thing of it, except a few Beef-eaters, pages with cocked hats &c dangling after the Commissioner's chair. The Commissioner himself I understand to be one of the meanest knaves north of the Tweed.2— But there is Six o'clock, my hour of marching. Farewell, my dear Mother! It is the dearest blessing of my lot that I have you to write to, & to care for me. Send me a long account of all you do & feel. My Father has not written to me for a long time: give my love to him and to all the rest, Mag, Jamie, Mary, Jane & Jenny. I suppose they are busy planting potatoes or hoeing turnips, or they would write to me. I am ever, My dear Mother,

Your affectionate Son, /

Thomas Carlyle—