The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO WILLIAM DOUGAL CHRISTIE ; 7 December 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401207-TC-WDC-01; CL 12: 346-347


Chelsea, 7 Decr, 1840—

Dear Christie,

On Saturday and for a whole week prior, and so onwards till yesternight, I was caged in that accursed Dogkennel of a Common-Pleas Court at Westminster, in the character of special Juryman; driven nearly mad; and have come to the conclusion that I will be mulcted, incarcerated, shot and almost crucified rather than go back for such an errand. Macaulay,1 who saw me in my despair on Saturday, I fancied might have told you how it stood with me.

Nothing whatever has been brought to pass here as to the Library. Macray of Oxford writes that he will not be Librarian on our terms; talks of a certain Mr Cochran, once a Scotch Bookseller, then Editor of the Foreign Quarterly Review, now I know not what; who perhaps may apply to us; who is not worth our applying to, or worth perhaps our accepting.2 The first grand thing to be done, the soul of the whole enterprise now, seems to me this of getting a right Librarian. He will devise the form of our Library, and all manner of etceteras; he, I think, or no one to right purpose. As to me, I am greatly desirous to be out of the Secretaryship, being nothing but a mere cloak while in it, the whole business falling on you. I will stay on the Committee, if you like, and do whatever is possible for me; but really that cannot be much, for I am to be very busy otherwise thro' winter. I wish much you would get this managed for me,—and be my great Apollo.

Tite of the Moorfields concern absolutely will not see me, as it seems, unless I force my way to him with axe and crowbar; I believe he knows what I have to urge, that he cannot grant it, and also that there is no reasonable account to be given of refusing it; wherefore he declines to see me;—and I now decline to be seen, and beg to wash my hands of him and Moorfields from this date altogether. We shall manage to get a set of Books in some other way.

The most important event is perhaps the inclosed Letter from Cole.3 Not that I know much of Cole's scheme-of-action as there laid down; but of the man Cole, as desirous to become a Committee-man, and to exert himself for the business, I judge that his services may be in the highest degree valuable. He is a man of infinite cunning activity; in reference to this monster of a London Public, one of the skilfullest men, successful hitherto in the most desperate-looking things he has undertaken in that kind. By all means, see him, get him yoked to the business; he now judges it to be vital, alive and like living; he is the man of men (in his way) to make it grow swiftly.

I am here generally till two; not in your region voluntarily once in the month. Every evening too, or almost every evening, I am at home: in a swift cab it is not 20 minutes from your Club. By all means, come to see me soon.

In breathless haste,

Yours always /

T. Carlyle