The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO JOHN FERGUSSON; 10 July 1819; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18190710-TC-JOFE-01; CL 1:187-188.


Mainhill10th July 1819

Dear Fergusson,

I wrote a letter some time ago, which I hope you have received, and intend shortly to answer. To quicken your movements in that matter is not, however, the sole cause which has induced me to address you at present.

There resides a certain medical student, in this neighbourhood, by name Mr Johnston,1 whom I dare say you have seen in Edinr. Being in want of books, he came to me two days ago with a request that I would endeavour to procure him some of that necessary material, from the College library. Upon considering the means, which I possessed of gratifying the young man's laudable desire, I agreed to write to you upon the subject;—persuaded that you will not grudge to devote an hour of your time to the aid of an amiable person, whose zeal for study,—especially among the ‘fable folk’ that rival or encourage him,—is altogether praiseworthy. But if you should happen to feel any scruples about signing the name (for which, however, you have its owner's authority) or transacting any other part of the business in quest[ion] [next word blotted] making a very ungenerous use of the desire, which you will feel of obliging me, to offer [next two or three words blotted: ag]ainst your returning the inclosed tickets & money, without proceeding farther in the affair. ‘But I hope better things tho' I thus speak.’2 The list of books is—Fife's plates of the arteries, Johnson on [tro]pical diseases, Thomson's lectures on inflammation, Charles Bell's plates of the brain, Scarpa on hernia (translated by Wishart) and Murray's materia medica vol. I. 3 If three of these volumes [cou]ld be arranged into a parcel (before the evening of the day on which you receive this), inclosing, of course, [as] long & circumstantial a letter to me as you can possibly afford—the whole directed to Mr Geo: [Jo]hnston student Ecclefechan (care of Geo: Farries carrier)—it would be a very particular favour. [I h]ope, notwithstanding, we are upon such a footing that you can, if it be inconvenient, decline the services [wit]hout suspecting that I shall dream of taking it amiss. What shall I do with your Review? I received much pleasure from perusing it. Who would not rejoice to see the far-fam[ed] banner of ‘the intellectual city’ still waving gaily above the Lock[h]arts & the Wilsons—that small pygmean fittest to be warred on by cranes4—heedless alike of their hatred and their love?— But this midnight is not a time for metaphors— Write me a long letter; and expect in return a minute account of the notable things (a large catalogue!) that I have done or thought of doing since my last communication. Does any one speak of Brewster's Journal?5 Make my respects to Mr Irving,—whom I have to accuse of negligence in letter-writing— With the best wishes for your prosperity—not forgetting the celebrated Alderman's wish forbon repos, I remain,

faithfully your's, /

Thomas Carlyle—