The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 30 May 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260530-TC-JAC-01; CL 4:e6.


Scotsbrig, Tuesday night [30 May 1826]

My Dear Jack,

I got your letter on monday; and I need not tell you that the contents of it gratified me not a little. You must have had a busy time of it lately; taking houses, and getting degrees! Let us be thankful that things wear so fair an aspect and have hitherto turned out so well. I doubt not but we shall all by and by be wonderfully comfortable.

I gratified all hands here, as I myself had been, by informing them of your first step towards graduation. “Not of works, lest we should boast!” the Apostle says;1 but really it is fair enough to go thro' so handsomely, without aid from any grinder or honer2 whatever, but purely by one's own resources. For the rest, doubt not that your moodiness was temporary; the slackening of the long-stretched cord, when the arrow was shot away: in a day the yew will tighten it again. The world is but beginning for you yet; and it is wide and broad, far beyond what you conjecture. It really is, Jack; tho' in hypochondriacal moments, you will not believe a word of it. Come to me wherever I be, when you have finished; and take plenty of time to consider what your next step must be. While either of us has a home, the other cannot want one.

We are all got over with whole bones to this new country;3 and every soul of us, our mother to begin with, much in love with it. The house is in bad order; but we hope to have it soon repaired; and for farming purposes, it is an excellent “shell of a house.” Then we have a linn [waterfall] with crags and bushes, and a “fairy knowe [knoll]” tho' no fairies that I have seen yet; and, cries our Mother, abundance of grand thready peats, and water from the brook, and no reek and no Honour4 to pester us! To say nothing, cries our father, of the eighten yeacre [acre] of the best barley in the country; and bog-hay, adds Alick, to fatten scores of young beasts!

In fact making all allowance for newfangledness, it is a much better place, so far as I can judge, than any our people have yet been in; and among far better and kindlier sort of people. I believe of a truth they will find themselves much obliged to his Honour for persecuting them away. Long life to his Honour! I myself like the place considerably better, tho' I have slept but ill yet, and am billus enough. But I have mounted your old straw-hat again; and fairly betaken me to work; and should, as we say Aberdeen-awa, “be bauld to compleen.”

The other day, just on Monday indeed w[ith my] letter in my hand, I met “Wull Eggar” or “Don [Quixote”?]5 of Deerhopes, mounted on a clipt and garnished quadruped, riding with an air of daring enterprise towards Ecclefechan. Laughter had fled from his diaphragm, and he told me at last that he was on his way to Annan, there to set up, in place of Waugh,6 or rather in absence of him. Thus round and round about go we! Poor Waugh is still in the Kings Arms inn; madly in love, they say, and persuaded that the Chambermaid has a mind to do him bodily harm, for reasons to herself best known. Seriously, I wish I could see Waugh: he has no friend on Earth, scarcely any relative; and Heaven knows, I would gladly enough see him act more wisely.

I have had a vile bout with this life of Hoffmann: it is far the worst, and has been far the most troublesome of them all. Henceforth [I hope] to supply M'Cork regularly. Write more at large if you can next time. Alick goes to Whitsuntide fair at Dumfries tomorrow, and this should go with him; and all hands are already sound asleep. I have still another notule to write, which you will not fail to deliver. Good night! I am ever your affe Brother,

Thomas Carlyle.

Is Johnston7 gone? My best wishes to him, if not.