January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 11 August 1829; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18290811-TC-JAC-01; CL 5:19-22.


Craigenputtoch, Tuesday Night [11 August 1829].

My dear Jack,

Jane has wrapped up your parcel of Books; and I employ these few instants to scribble you a line. Let me hope you arrived safe that night by the “nearer road,” and are now busy with your Animal Magnetism. If the whisky-drinking Laird1 come near you, retire from before him, as from a Priest of Dagon, and seek refuge here. Nay, why have you left us? The instant you are free of Jamie, obey your first impulse to come back. We shall always rejoice to see that gawsie [big, jolly] countenance; and I promise not to plague you any more about “setting up”;2 but leave you to set up or sit down, when and where you find most advisable.

These infatuated Blacks have not paid me a stiver yet: but I have written to dun them this night;3 and on the whole, shall make bold to draw on them for that twenty pounds, and give it you, at any hour you like. So pray understand this, and let us have no more summering and wintering of the matter.

We were at Dumfries on Saturday, and saw the Jeffreys: they arrived about seven at night; and the new Dean and I sat talking of high and low matters till near two in the morning. The Dean of Faculty seems slowly coming over to “Mysticism,” were he not long ago a vollendete Stümper [completely unreasonable man]! He told me I was “paradoxical,” yet “right in the main”; and “could preach very well, if they would let me make my own religion.” At nine next morning, we breakfasted (all bug-bitten, and short of sleep); and the good kind Deankin4 mit Weib und Kind [with wife and child] rolled off towards Annan, and Wales, and London, and Heaven knows whither, amid, not the storms and the tempests of Night, but the dags [mists] and the drizzles of Day. Shortly afterwards, it began to rain heartily, even violently; and we could not set out on our return, till almost six at night. The afternoon, after morning sermon, we spent with Mrs Richardson;5 among all manner of Elgin Magazines, and L.E.L's6 Poems, and Dundee Couriers, and Literary Gazettes, and Poetasterism and Kleinstädterei [small-town affairs] of every colour and degree. She is really a good worthy woman; well bred and well intentioned; but dwells in a habitation as of Bristol card, not of brick and mortar. She specially desired to see you, and enjoy your acquaintance, when you settled in Dumfries; which, she thought, if you were “a man of talent,” offered free scope for you, thickly peopled as it is with Doctors of no talent. Macdiarmid was from home, or I should have seen him too.

Since then I have been chiefly sleeping, and trying at waking intervals to make ready for writing at great length on Jean Paul. I must finish him before I stir. It seems to be settled that we are to go and see Edinr, and the Jeffreys, so soon as they return; which will not be for six weeks or so. Much as we talked, not one word was said about Macvey Napier, or writing either Luther7 or “Articles”! Nay I believe the Signs of the Times8 will not be sent me, but I must borrow it; nor do I know when the work is to be out; but only that it is printing.

But on the whole, dear Doctor, “it is but fair to say”9 that I am very bilious, and languid, and must break off. Write me a little word, were it only to say that poor Jamie is ‘knitting.’ Tell my Mother that I did not half see her, when I was there; and will be back when I have got loose again. Alas! Alas! How souls are divided in this Earth! I could almost greet [weep] when I think of it, would greeting do any good. Remember me in [ki]ndest love to all the rest, My Father, Mag, Jamie and them all.—Can you hear any tidings of Frank Dickson at the Lockerby Fair? Will Grahame come to us; and will you come with him? “Have you any notion”? Good night! my dear Doctor! Excuse this wonderful palaver, and accept it in good part.

I am ever, / Your true Friend & Brother, /

Thomas Carlyle—

I have written to Church, putting him off sine die [without fixing a future day]; also the matter of the white veil is fully explained from the “Craw that does not flee.”10