1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 20 July 1824; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18240720-TC-MAC-01; CL 3:110-113.


Birmingham, 20th July 1824—

My dear Mother,

I daresay you are already full of various anxieties on my account; and for that reason I am anxious to let no day slip till I have satisfied you about my history and welfare. The last bundle of letters would inform you of my having parted with the Bullers, and my purpose of coming hither to be doctored: two days ago I accomplished that determination; and tho' scarcely settled in my place yet, or fully acquainted with the lye of things about me, I cannot wait another post to tell you that I am well and all your motherly anxieties are superfluous.

Strange and inconsiderate as the conduct of the Bullers and my connexion with them has been, I cannot feel sorry that it brought me to the south: I feel that I shall learn much here, and gain much. I have already found several worthy characters whose friendship I design to cultivate, and who seem desirous of cultivating mine. Much also may be done as well as enjoyed in this part: I have even hopes of getting back my health! But I must tell you every thing in order.

Directly after parting with my very noble and approved good masters, I set about considering what in my then state of entire freedom was to be made of my most precious self. That I should go to Birmingham to the care of Badams was already determined: but it struck me that some work to occupy my leisure hours, and keep my hand in use, after my return would be of essential service to me. I went among such booksellers, therefore, as I had access to, and sounded them on various topics. Boyd I told you I had written to on the subject of a translation: he answered my letter by return of post offering willingly enough to publish the continuation of Meister, on condition (the Turk!) that I would take a certain sum and make it his. This I shall hardly do, tho' as yet I have not told him so. In the meanwhile, however, Tayler & Hessey had suggested the propriety of publishing the Schiller in a separate form, a proposal to which I readily acceded, requesting only that they would specify some rational terms on which I might proceed. They seemed to require time; and I applied in the interim to Whittaker (the publisher of Meister, a heathen of the city, but a great seller of books), who also required time, but seemed to bite more readily at the ware. Both of these “base Phrygian Turks” wanted to publish on the scheme of half-profits, a scheme which honest Collins1 of Glasgow forewarned me never by any chance to engage in. They are to write to me in a day or two. I expect to get some £90—or so (including the magazine fee) for this book: it is to be enlarged with various translations &c &c: I will send you a copy in a few months. The booksellers whenever they agree with me will send me up German books &c such as I need: I expect to have the business done before leaving Birmingham.

The arranging of all that took up more time than I anticipated. The kindness of some good friends detained me still farther. Irving and I are as great as ever. He is in feebler health, and much more pleasant every way than he was. His Mrs Montague also rather gains on me than loses: I seem to stand very well with her. She would have me to come and stay at her house when I returned to London, and seemed mortified when I declined. But my chief favourite is Mrs Strachey, a sister of Mrs Buller's, but different as day from night. She is serious and earnest and religious and affectionate, while the other is light giddy vain and heartless. She and I will be sworn friends by and by. I was out at Shooter's Hill where she lives in summer, for two days, and we had much pleasant conversation with each other and her husband, who is in the India House a man of birth and fortune but simple and playful as a child and liberal and clever in all his opinions and pretensions.2 On returning from her house last Thursday evening, whom should I find waiting for me in Irving's but my good old friend and trusty countryman—the Targer!3 There was he sitting with his angular, meek, true-hearted countenance, after travelling all the way from Brighton the day before, and with the purpose of setting out next morning for Southhampton[.] He staid with us all night, and I walked with him in the morning to Lad Lane, and saw him mounted on the “leathern conveniency” after many mutual engagements to remember and to write to one another.— As last of Saturday I was ready for departure hither: but the coach being full, I was forced to wait a day, and (as Mrs Martin and daughter had arrived from Kir[kcaldy] to superintend Mrs I's. lying-in4—as I observe) I could wait but a day[. Our] ride of 120 miles thro' a lovely English country was performed without accident or particular discomfort: we drove like Jehu,5 and were here at seven o'clock in the evening after a ride of twelve hours including every stoppage. Badams received me as if I had been an acquaintance of twenty years standing: he has given me a room in his house; he feeds me, and takes me out to ride, and leads me and guides me in every thing, declaring that he will refit me altogether by and by. His plan includes nothing but diet and exercise: he is trying me with wine before dinner, with soft eggs and tea &c &c till he discovers what it is that ails me. I do think there is some hope of my getting better: at last it well deserves a trial. There is something so eminently un-Scotch in all this project that I scarce know what to make of it. Badams and I are already familiar as household friends. I find him to be a very singular character. He is scarcely older than myself, yet he has already by his chemical inventions and speculations made and lost two fortunes. He has plans on the anvil more gigantic than those perhaps of any man in Britain. Yet withal he is a modest careless good-hearted fellow; full of taste for poetry and painting and even riding and hunting. What I like in him most is the love he bears his mother: she lives at Warwick supported with her daughters by his bounty on the most liberal terms. He is a man of sound sense, I think, with all his schemes; and what is to me most important, he has cured himself and many other obstinate dyspeptics of all their ailments. I hope he will succeed. At all events I cannot but be happy for a while: he means to show me many things and persons: I have several letters from Irving; and this city of Smiths has many curious things in it which I must see. Of Brummagem (as they call it) I will not say a word at present, and for obvious reasons.— Now my dear Mother, when, when shall I hear of you? Are you well and contented? My thoughts are daily with you as yours are with me. Bid Jack write the moment he gets this. Give the warmest love of my heart to all at Mainhill. God bless every one of you! I am ever [, my] dear Mother, Your son,

T. Carlyle

[In margins:] Did you get the two Examiners I sent you? The last of them was forced into my hand by a news-vender, just as I was mounting the Coach at 7 a.m., and what should I see in it, but a review of Meister!6 I bought it, read it, and sent it to you. Meister is getting to be a small lion in London; the papers are puffing, and the people are reading him. Boyd, I am pretty positive, has cheated me out of 500 copies—that is printed 1500—nevertheless a second edition will most probably be needed—he will then cheat me a second time—but a third never. Let me be content.

Tell Jack to send me the Courier the very day he gets this—no matter how old. The address is care of John Badams Esquire, Birmingham. Bid my good Jack write the second day at farthest. I long to hear all his news and studies and adventures[.]

Is my trusty Alick well? Tell him to send his compliments in his own hand—if he will not write by himself. Give my love to Mag and Jamie, Mary, Jane, Jenny[.]

I long to hear tell of my Father: I hope he is as usual— Next letter I will be more explicit. Soon, soon! Farewell my dear Mother! Remember me always, in your kind thoughts—in your prayers.