The Collected Letters, Volume 11


TC TO JOHN GIBSON LOCKHART ; 20 May 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390520-TC-JGL-01; CL 11: 103-104


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, 20th May 1839—

Dear Sir,

It will probably seem rather surprising that I of all persons should propose writing for you in the Quarterly Review. Neither do I propose it for a series of times, nor altogether definitely even for one first time. For one first time, however, there is in it such a look of possibility that I find it worth while to consult you on the matter.

I have, and have had for many years, a word to speak on the condition of the lower classes in this country.1 My notions on this subject differ intensely from those of the speculating radicals, intensely from those of the Whigs: it seems to me the better class of the Conservatives were on the whole the persons to whom it were hopefullest and in many ways fittest to address myself. There are writers in your Review with whom I have a deep sympathy; a Revd Mr Sewell2 in particular whose name I inquired out some years ago, gets in general from me the heartiest, most entire assent all along till we get to the conclusion he draws, when, strangely enough, I am obliged to answer, “Not at all by any means,”—for most part! On the whole, I think I partly understand what the conditions of this proposed sermon of mine would be; and if you gave me scope I think I could tell my audience a strange thing or two without offence, nay with hope of persuading and interesting certain of them.

At all events, as I said, it is a kind of necessity for me to speak this word, some time or other, somewhere or other; and as I cannot afford to pay for printing pamphlets, or even to write for nothing, I find on looking round me that first of all I ought to ask you to consider what is feasible about this, and let me know your decision.

I come almost daily into the Piccadilly region, and could give you a meeting anywhere in that quarter, at any house, at any time (about the middle hours of the day) you might please to appoint. At all events, pray consider this proposal not altogether as an intrusion, but at lowest as a proof of something which (I judge very certainly) if you knew it to the bottom would not be offensive to you.3

I remain, / dear Sir, / Yours very sincerely

T. Carlyle