The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE, THE ELDER; 4 December 1822; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18221204-TC-JCE-01; CL 2:216-218.


3. Moray-street, 4th December 1822—

My dear Father,

I know not whether strictly speaking I owe you a letter in the fair way of one for one as traders count; but certainly in every other way of reckoning I should have written to you long ago. You already understand what has prevented me. Last time the Carrier was here, I was whipt round in a whirl of business; and his next journey has been delayed beyond what I could reasonably anticipate when I scribbled off those two sheets under Frank. Now however that I have got the quill in my hand, and some reasonable portion of time before me, I am determined not to faulter till I have filled the sheet for you.

We have heard so scantily from home that we can only form an imperfect guess at what is going on there. The most important thing however the fact of your continued health and general welfare we have learned; and that is every thing. In other respects I suppose you to be struggling away making what head you can against these meagre times the pressure of which all men are feeling. How it will end I cannot see or form any conjecture. I observe they are making movements in the South; but shewing thereby only that they feel the evil, not that they know how to remedy it. Meanwhile industry and thrift, the only shield and sword by which the tyrant Necessity can be met and vanquished, are not wanting on your part; you have only to await the issue patiently, happy that you are so little involved in it. There will be many a ruined man, before twelve months go round again.

You have not told me whether you liked the sermons.1 If there is any other book you stand in want of, or at all care about having, it will be a pleasure for me to get it for you. I think you do very well to read in the winter nights; they are tedious otherwise; & of all states for a mortal man, the unhappiest is where his mind, requiring constant employment and a continuous flow of ideas, can find nothing to employ it. There are some good books in the Ecclefn Library, which I think you would like if you tried them

Having written so largely and frequently of late, little remains for me at present to communicate in the shape of news about my situation or proceedings. I find my health slowly but gradually improving; the duties I have to go thro' are of an easy sort; the people are on the whole very agreeable: so that I am as happy and contented as I could expect to be. The old Squire Buller is a great favourite with me; a downright, true, unaffected, honest Englishman as I would wish to see. We meet not above once or twice a week; but we are always very blithe when we do meet, we talk and speculate about politics and learned men and morals and letters and things in general; we are very comfortable in spite of his deafness which disturbs the pleasure of conversation somewhat particularly at first. The lady is a far more shewy article than her husband; she makes an elegant appearance in drawing-rooms and stately ceremonies: in other respects I feel little love for her. She seems to have had too much of her own way, to have been too highly born and bred for my taste. Yet all this is mere speculation on my part: I have never experienced from her any thing but extreme civility and attention; nor do I fear the contrary; seeing the method to avoid deserving it, and feeling the power to repel it if offered undeservedly.

A while ago, one Galloway whom I knew here, invited me to become a candidate for a vacant Professorship in the Royal Military College at Sandhurst away beyond London, where he now is. It is to teach Mathematics; the salary is about £200 a year with house and garden; the labour is not great; the whole establishment is under Government. I wrote to inquire farther about it; but have not yet received any answer. I do not think, I shall mind it much; tho' it is good to have such a thing before one.

To-night I had a letter from James Johnstone at Broughty Ferry. The poor fellow seems to be in very bad case there: he has fallen among fools and shoemakers and methodists; they have pla[gued?] his whole patience out with sounding his religious views, calling upon him to pray and preach and expound the scripture—tasks which he absolutely declines having any thing to do with. It is well, for one thing, that he has got plenty of scholars to attend him: I trust he will at length be able to go on without the canting rabble that beset him at present. I design to write to him forthwith, advising him to hold fast his integrity—to appeal by his zeal and diligence as a teacher to the judgement of the public, and if the methodists will not let him alone to send them to the right about in a quiet way. He is a worthy honest soul as lives: I am grieved and angry to see him treated so.

But I must conclude this scrawl, with a petition for a letter from you the first time you can prevail upon yourself to write. If you knew how much pleasure we take in your letters you would send us more of them. Jack would have written to you by this opportunity, but he has no moment of time left now. He will mend the matter next chance. I remain,

My dear Father, / Your affecte Son, /

Thomas Carlyle—