The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 26 September 1822; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18220926-TC-JAC-01; CL 2:168-171.


3. Moray-street, 26th September [1822]—

My dear Jack,

I fear I have been a little too remiss in writing to you touching your journey hither. I designed to have accomplished that duty about Wednesday, in order to leave you room for setting out at the end of this week, and meeting me here about Saturday; but some call or other was made on my attention at the time, and a slender call is enough at present to disconcert my measures, the time I have to spare being limited, and the duties I have to fulfil so near occupying it entirely that even a walk to the Post-office may prove incompatible with some of my engagements. As matters stand, I hardly expect you to-morrow; but if you get this duly, and have all things in readiness, you may still be able to take your departure sometime next week—if on Wednesday morning—so much the better, as you would in that case find me disengaged and waiting to receive you in the evening. This however I hardly expect, at so brief a warning: nor does it matter much; you will be no worse for a few days more of rustication, and there will be time enough after all for labour of every sort tho' you should come a little later.

As to your plan of riding to Elwanfoot,1 I cannot approve of it at all; the distance is far too great and the hour too early. It were better, if you disrelish sleeping in Dumfries, to ride thither in the morning, starting from home about half-past two, or to try if you could fall in with the coach about Closeburn2 or Thornhill, at which latter place it makes a halt of twenty minutes, with a view to breakfasting, about eight in the morning. I think there is a road to Closeburn by Lochmaben and the Gawin Moor, which makes the distance some twenty miles. But Dumfries the night before is certainly the most convenient arrangement; and notwithstanding the additional expense, I imagine it ought to be preferred. Another method perhaps better than any is to ride up to Moffat some evening; to meet the Mail there about eleven at night, to get an inside seat, and be landed here at five next morning. You can sleep here till noon if you like. Only you must discover which day the Mail goes thro' Moffat, for it does so only on alternate days. If you failed in getting a seat you might walk on to Elwanfoot next morning with great ease. Obse[r]ve however that you must certainly take an inside seat if the weather is in the least damp, or almost whether or not: you have no idea what a task it is to sit all day motionless on the coach-roof in the month of October; under cloud of night it were madness to attempt it. Recollect also that truest of adages that stuffing keeps out storm. In short Jack you see there are almost as many ways of getting to Edinr, as miles between you and it. Take any of them you judge fittest; and let me see your honest sonsy [comely] face in Moray-street as soon as possible. Send me a line beforehand, if you can conveniently, marking the day of your departure, and all things will be ready for you when you come.

I have not spoken any more to Mrs Mackenzie about your teaching: but I know you have only to shew face, and begin when you see proper. It seems possible enough you may get more employment of a similar sort; but if not—never care one fig about the matter: I have been arranging medical and other studies in abundance for you; begin them with an ardent heart—and let no fear of poverty abate your zeal—at least till I cease to have a shilling to divide with you. I shall “call upon you legally” for reimbursement, when you mount your bag-wig and gold-headed cane, to kill the higher orders of society secundum artem [according to profession]—and not till then.

Methinks I see the expectant group of faces which the arrival of this poor sheet has assembled round you, in hopes to hear some tidings of the northern Hypochondriac; and something like a wrinkle of disappointment beginning to appear on them—as they observe how fast the paper is vanishing, and no tidings at all of the said Hypochondriac in it—but stories of Mail-coaches and post-roads and hours of teaching, things far from the point in hand. Tell that friendly and well-beloved circle, that I am well and comfortable as I could wish. Buller's house is becoming more and more a kind of home to me; the elders treat me almost like a son in many respects, the younger members almost like a brother. In fact our studies are going on moderately well—there is nothing but good agreement as yet, and I think the thing will do.

Apparently Farries is interred. I have looked for his arrival with ample news from home, for many days—and still he comes not. Did my Mother get the letter I sent by George Currie? The next I write shall be to Alick. Has he begun his trading speculations yet? Our Father will now be busy securing the remainder of the harvest: but I expect to hear from him by the earliest opportunity. Give my kindest love to all the brethren and sisters great and small; I hope to send them letters &c individually by the return of the box. Adueu, Jack—jusqu'au revoir [until we meet again]! I am ever thine affectionate Brother,

Thomas Carlyle

I had a letter from Edwd Irving lately, in which he asks kindly after you; and also talks of an obligation, which he had to communicate with James Johnston (to whom remember me kindly), but which Collins' letter has now in a great measure superseded.3— I design writing to Kirkchrist4 about Duncan one of these days.— Tell my dear Mother to be at ease about me, and to take care of my comfort by taking care of her own. She need not put any frills on the remaining shirts—if any remain. C'est assez ['Tis enough]!