The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO THOMAS BALLANTYNE ; 11 May 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400511-TC-TB-01; CL 12: 140-141


Chelsea, 11 May, 1840.

My dear Sir,

There is no Newspaper that I know of hitherto which gives any report of my Lectures this year. I never either authorized or prohibited such reporting, nor have I in the present case; but left the “able editors” to do with the thing as they liked;—and this is the way they like to do at present. Their reasons I might perhaps conjecture to be rather flattering to me; but at all events the fact itself I find to be highly convenient. The fuss and uproar of all that puffery and reportery (worthy of the name of butchery) was in the utmost degree confusing to me; and it did not, as I suspected, and may now see, produce any result on the economical side to compensate for such confusion: we are almost a third more numerous this year than on any former year; and our Lectures go on much better in quietness, as they might be expected to do.

A reporter of Fraser the Bookseller's does attend, and make a kind of Note or Draft of the business; a diligent intelligent man: but what can any reporter do? I have seen his “First Lecture,” and would not have it printed with my name to it for any hire whatever. My only chance, if I persist in such a notion, and find I have strength left for it, will be to work the subject up by myself, and print it by and by as a kind of Book.1

Lecturing does my health such mischief, and is every way so intensely disagreeable to me, that nothing short of compulsion, such as one may hope will not forever exist, can rationally drive me to it. It was a narrow turn of the balance that I did not decline such a business this year: and, with my present feeling, there is no hope dearer to me than that I may never do it again in the world. Four times spitted on the spear's point like a Surinam2 fire-fly to give light to the fashionable classes: this is enough of times! I shall be right thankful to get through it without disgrace, and cease shining in that manner.

If you come to London, you will come to Chelsea, and find a friendly welcome here.— In haste,

Yours always truly, /