The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 23 September 1822; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18220923-TC-MAC-01; CL 2:163-165.


Edinr, 3 Moray-street Monday P.M. [23 September 1822]

My dear Mother,

A few minutes ago, I had a call from George Currie, who has just been attending to the shore his relation Frank Little, embarked for London (to which place also old Cressfield attends him),1 and thence as you know to New Holland. George purposes setting out for Annandale to-morrow morning; and as he volunteered carrying any message or the like for me down to Ecclefechan, it struck me that I might easily spend this half-hour still left to me, in a worse way than in scrawling a few hasty sentences for your perusal, on a subject which, tho' I have short while ago treated it largely, you will not now think it superfluous to have yet more largely treated. You expect no regularity or precision in such letters as this; and here you will find none.

In my large epistle to Jack, I gave you assurance that matters were bidding fair to go on well with me in this new situation; that I was moderately healthy; well treated, and happy in every respect but the novelty and partial untowardness of my condition—which untowardness, I then confidently anticipated would be only for a time. I have since had a farther trial of matters; and I know it will give you pleasure to be informed that my anticipations are daily getting more confirmed. The people treat me with every species of consideration; the labour is very moderate, and by no means disagreeable; and I command almost six hours daily which are altogether at my own disposal. Also my health is getting into the old track of improvement. Indeed I have hopes of getting as sound as any ploughman ultimately; and even before winter is done of being in a very passable case. At this date, I am as well as I have been for a twelvemonth—far better than usually during that period. One of these days, I am going to lay in my assortment of reading, and commence my course of studies for the winter: I hope even to have the Book in a state of forwardness against spring!

So that you see, my dear Mother, all the anxieties you feel on my account are perfectly superfluous: I am as well as I could hope in every point; and quite near enough being as well as I could wish, if I would leave sufficient stimulus for action behind. Let us all be thankful for the mercies that our kind Father is ever mixing with the cup of life—bitter and depressing as it may sometimes be.

As I am the great fountain of news, I bear patiently with the want of intelligence from Home as yet, reckoning it my part for the present rather to give than to receive. Nevertheless I often turn my contemplations southward; and think what is becoming of you all, how your labours are prospering, and what measure of contentment you enjoy. The continued fine weather here leaves me room to hope that the Harvest with you is now past the busiest. We have had some days of a wind sufficient to “dry all the stuff in the creation”; and then fine mild sunshiny weather succeeded which would render it a pleasure to gather in the sheaves to their winter lair. I trust every thing is going as you would desire it.

For yourself, my dear Mother, I have only to hope that you are now safe thro' this bustle; and to repeat my earnest prayer that you would be cautious of exposing yourself to any inclemency, and careful to take the good of every convenience within your reach. I once more bid you make a point of having tea every night: it is the best thing in the world, if used in moderation: and none deserves it better or has earned it more faithfully than you. That evening potation which I used to be so fond of, I now consume in the drawing-room of the Bullers with urns and china and splendid apparatus all around me: yet I often turn from a[ll] that granduer with a soft and pensive recollection to the little down-the-house at Mainhill, where kind affections made amends for all deficiencies, and would have made a rich amends for a thousand more. Often, often, my dear Mother, in coming years we shall yet drink tea there; enjoy our pipe and friendly chat together there; and pity all the empty gorgeousnesses of this Earth.

But five o'clock is just upon the stroke, and half-an-hour hence will be the very rational time we dine at in India-street: so I must cut and run. I purposed telling you many things more; and perhaps even writing to our shifty husbandman, the short-tempered but true-hearted Alick. Tell him so, and that I long for his letter. When the box comes out, tell Jack to put my Homer in: our Arthur2 is reading it, and I require to prepare beforehand— When is the Cluist or [Christ?] Jack coming in person. He cannot get to the “second Greek” this year—I fear: but he shall not want for work. Give my love to my Father, whose letter I expect by the first opportunity. My warm and brotherly affection to all the rest—Mag, Jamie, Mary, Jane and the songstress Jenny. Remember me also as Nancy's kind cousin. The clock has struck! I must off without delay. Believe me to be, My dear Mother,

Ever your affectionate son, /

Th: Carlyle—

Tell Jack to write by Post, and give my compliments to James Johnston—