The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 29 June 1822; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18220629-TC-MAC-01; CL 2:140-142.


Edinr, 29th June 1822.

My dear Mother,

Contrary to expectation I have still a few minutes before me, in which I can scribble a line or two for your perusal; and as I know you are always pleased at hearing from me, I gladly devote them to that purpose. There are two letters here which have lain for you & Alick many weeks; they are now out of date to all intents & purposes, but I send them as proofs that if I disappointed you last time there was a box here, the blame was not mine.

I have got none but the most scanty notices from Mainhill, for a long while; and I am very anxious, as is natural, to have more particular information. I can only trust in the mean time that Providence still favours you with a moderate degree of health & comfort; and I entertain the hope that in spite of all obstacles I shall see you ere long—to have a cup of tea & a whiff together, and talk over all our mutual concerns. In reckoning over my blessings, and balancing them against my woes, one of the largest articles in the former side of the account is the happiness of having you to share so deeply as I know you do in all that affects my interests. I should be worse than a dog, if I could ever forget the kind treatment I experienced at Mainhill, when it was so difficult tho' at the same time so needful to treat me kindly.

The Porter has this moment brought in the little bundle; & I have found in it a small note from Mag, which tho' brief is worth much to me. I rejoice to find that you are all in your usual way; I trust you will long be spared so. I must again more pressingly renew my request to Alick that he would write to me at great length by Post: the Porter has gone away without the box, and I suspect you will not see it on this occasion; so that except by his means I have little chance to hear of you for a great while.

I do not think you need send any box by Farries next time. I know it hurries you immensely, and the stupid driveller makes such confusion in the delivery of it that one is quite vexed. I have as much butter (of excellent quality) beside me as I shall need; the landlady makes a kind of cakes which is the thriftiest kind I ever ate, and what is better, she gets me good brown bread from a Baker which I like very much. She also washes very well, and gets me eggs of a small but wholesome structure to my breakfast. So you need not vex yourself about the box any more till some new arrangement is fallen upon.

I am in very fair health considering every thing; about a hundred times as well as I was last year this time, and as happy as you ever saw me. In fact I want nothing but steady health of body (which I shall get in time) to be one of the comfortablest persons of my acquaintance. I have also books to write, and things to say & do in this world, which few wot of. This has the air of vanity, but it is not altogether so: I consider that my Almighty Author has given me some glimmerings of superior understanding & mental gifts; and I should reckon it the worst treason against him to neglect improving & using to the very utmost of my power these his bountiful mercies. At some future day, it shall go hard but I will stand above these mean men, whom I have never yet stood with. But we need [no]t prate of this.

I am very much satisfied with my teaching: in fact it is [a] pleasure rather than a task. The Bullers are quite another sort of boys than I have been used to, and treat me in another sort of manner than tutors are used to. When I think of General Dirom's1 brats & how they used to vex me, I often wonder that I had not broken their backs at once, & left them. This would not have done, to be sure; but the temptation was considerable. The eldest Buller is one of the cleverest boys I have ever seen: he delights to enquire—& argue &—be demolished; he follows me nigh home almost every night. Very likely I may bargain finally with the people: but I have had no certain intimation on the subject; and in fact I do not care immensely whether or not. There is bread for the diligent to be gained in a thousand ways.

I am very sorry to learn that my aunt Mary Stewart2 has been so long poorly. I will certainly write to my uncle John, some time very soon. My Father has not written to me for a long series of weeks. I would have sent him a letter to-day, if I had not been hurried beyond expression. Write to me yourself or by proxy if you can manage it the first opportunity. I am ever (My dear Mother)

Your affecte son, /

Th: Carlyle

I had almost forgot to mention that I heard of old Mrs Hope the other week. She is again living in lodgings at Musselburgh, is grown very deaf, but quite reformed from her old aberrations, and otherwise happy: she sent her kind remembrances to you, thro' the medium of her nephew David Hope, who staid with me for several days, and went out to see her in one of them. I have some thoughts of calling upon her sometime myself. She would be very glad I am sure to get a letter from you.