The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE; 25 November 1823; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18231125-TC-AC-01; CL 2:476-478.


Kinnaird House, 25th November, 1823—

My dear Alick,

I need not say with what pleasure I received your kind, spirited and affectionate letter. It is sweet to me to hear that you are all as you should be; sweet to know that you all truly sympathize with me in my afflictions, tho' it be little in your power or in human power to help them.

You said you would come for the pony at a moment's warning: I am going to take you at your word. Before you can read this notice, I am on the road for Edinr, where I shall be waiting to receive you, and deliver up this faithful steed into your hands. Jack told me you had got another galloway; a circumstance that made me pause in my intention of sending this Bardolph down to winter with you; but I reflected that perhaps it might be easy for you to sell the present one, and reinstate Dolph in his rights and privileges of carrying you up and down the country in your trafficking expeditions, and so working for his oats and hay as he is in duty bound. If it is not so, you may let me know by letter while I am in Edinr; in which case I may perhaps take the beast with me again—that is if I return myself. There was a Notary Public at Broughty-ferry, when I was down seeing Johnstone—wanting to buy it, being struck by the freedom of its paces as he saw me riding it about. The Landlord of the Inn there, a hash [blockhead] if there is one, said it was a “virry fine beast Sir”; and as for the saddle—that could not be matched in Angus.

The truth is, however, I want to see yourself in Edinr, that the whole three1 of us may hold solemn council on what is farther to be done not with the horse alone, but with his rider. The Bullers and I have had some farther conversation on the subject of my going or staying: they are to give me a letter to George Bell,2 the celebrate d Surgeon in Edinr, who is maturely to investigate the state of my unfortunate carcass, and see if nothing can be done to aid me. By his advice I must in some degree be guided in my future movements. They are anxious of course that I should return; but fully prepared for my quitting them should that seem necessary; they have in fact written by my advice to Dr Brewster about providing them a successor, and it is one of my engagements to communicate with Brewster on this point. I do not think it likely that he will find any suitable person; in which case, should I retire from duty, the young men here must go to Cambridge or some other such seminary. They are all very kind to me here, and would do any thing to make me comfortable, and take me back on almost any terms.

I confess I am greatly at a loss what to do; and for that cause if there were no other, I am ill at ease. That some change must be made in my arrangements is clear enough: at present, I am bowed down to the earth with such a load of woes as keeps me in continual darkness. I seem as it were dying by inches; if I have one good day, it is sure to be followed by three or four ill ones. For the last week, I have not had any one sufficient sleep; even porridge has lost its effect on me. I need not say that I am far from happy.— On the other hand, I have many comforts here; indeed I might live as snugly as possible, if it were not for this one solitary but all-sufficient cause. I know also and shudder at the miseries of living in Edinr, as I did before; this I will not do. “On the whole,” as Jack says, it is become indispensible that I get back some shadow of health. My soul is crippled and smothered under a load of misery and disease, from which till I get partly relieved, life is burdensome and useless to me. We must all consult together, after I have heard the opinion of the “Cunning Leech,”3 who I suppose will put me upon mercury; and see what is to be done. If I were well, I fear nothing; if not, every thing. You need not think from all this that I am dying; there does not seem to be the slightest danger of that: I am only suffering daily as much bodily pain as I can well suffer without running Wud [mad]. So having finished this “Life of Schiller Part. II.” and sent it off to London yesterday, I determine to set off for Edinr on Thursday morning; I shall be there on Friday.

It must be owned, My dear Brother, this is a confused enough piece of business, and described with equal perplexity. Nevertheless, you will not fail to make the best of my scrawl—which I write after dinner (when I am always sickest) and in hourly expectation of the Post. If you cannot well be spared at present, write to me in Edinr without loss of time, and I will either go back with the horse, or bring it down to you myself, or send it by Frank Dickson, who is to meet me in the City. Jack's Lodgings you know are at 35. Bristo-street. If you come in person, you must travel by the Coach. Your best plan is to mount early on Saturday morning, and overtake the vehicle at Moffatt: you will get in by that means for twelve or thirteen shillings—for which I shall gladly be in your debt. Jamie may accompany you so far, or come up after you to take back the horse you ride on. You will find us at Bristo-street waiting for you. If you cannot come till Monday or later, it makes no kind of matter: I shall not be gone at any rate till the end of the week: only by that means, I should get less of your company.— Tell our Father and Mother how it stands; but forbid them to concern their minds about me; for this is only a temporary misfortune, which I shall yet gloriously triumph over. I have been a wae [woeful] sight to them, first and last; but it shall not always be so. Present my kindest affection to all. Write to me if you think it best not to come; if otherwise, come—with your great-coat and spurs.

I am ever [you]r faithful Brother, /

T. Carlyle

I have a tremendous shag-greatcoat of Charlie's4 to ride in— Tell my Mother. The ride will almost mend me, I know. I have written to Jack just now to expect [me]. On Thursday-night, I shall likely stay with Will. Bretton, who has a spare bed.