The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 2 January 1827; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18270102-TC-MAC-01; CL 4:180-181.


21. Comley Bank, / 2nd January 1827—

My Dear Mother,

At length Tait has given me an opportunity of sending off the weary Book, and along with it, of writing you a word or two to inquire after your welfare and assure you of my own. The German Romance I have inscribed to my Father, tho' I know that he will not read a line of it: from you, however, I hope better things; and at any rate, I have sent you a Book, which I am sure you will read; because it relates to a really good man, and one engaged in a cause which all men must reckon good. You must accept this Life of Henry Martyn1 as a New-year's gift from me; and while reading it, believe that your son also is a kind of missionary in his way; not to the Heathen of India, but to the British Heathen, an innumerable class, whom he would gladly do something to convert, if so were his perplexities and manifold infirmities would give him leave! We must wait patiently, and study to do what service we can, not despising the day of small things,2 but meekly trusting that hereafter it may become the day of greater.

I need not tell you how glad I was to learn that you are still in moderately good health, and living in such peace and quiet as this bustling, fluctuating life of ours can be expected to afford. Give my best thanks to Mary for her punctuality, and assure her that I will one day endeavour to repay her. She is a good lassie, and a quickhanded; and has as true a heart as any that lives. She was once my nurse and faithful waiting-maid; and her punctuality in that station I have not yet forgotten.

We are all well enough here, except perhaps the Doctor, who (shame on his medicine!) is scarcely so well as he used to be at Scotsbrig, and for the last two or three days at least has been complaining of unsound bowels. By opium, however, I believe he has cured himself.3 I have been lecturing him about his remissness in writing, this morning and last night; and now I suppose he will take pen in hand, and answer in his own person for his own concerns. At present he is reclining in state, in his grey gown, reading a German book, with Jane sitting sewing caps at his side.

I am beginning to be very instant for some sort of occupation, which indeed forms my chief want at present. When the Book is fairly out, I must stir the waters, and see what is to be done. Many, many plans I have: but few of them, I doubt, are likely to prove acceptable at present, the “times” are so bad, and bookselling trade so dull. Something however I will fix upon; for work is as essential to me as meat and drink. Of money we are not in want: the other morning Mrs Welsh sent us a letter with sixty pounds inclosed, fearing lest cleanness of teeth might be ready to overtake us! I thought it extremely kind and handsome; but we returned the cash, with many thanks, wishing to “fight our own battle,” at least till the season of need arrived.

I have not said a word yet about your kind Scotsbrig package: it was all right and in order; only that a few of the eggs (the box not being completely stuffed and firm) had suffered by the carriage: most part of these Jane has already converted into custards, pancakes and other the like ware; the others I am eating and find excellent. A woman comes here weekly with fresh stock to us, and I eat just one daily, the price being 15d per dozen.— Now, my Dear Mother, you must make Alick write to me, without any undue delay; and tell me all and every thing that is going on with himself or any of you. Wish all hands (from Mag down to Jenny) a happy new-year in my name; and assure them all, one by one, that I will love them truly all my days. I am ever,

My Dear Mother, / Your affectionate son, /

T. Carlyle—