January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JOHN FORSTER ; 28 July 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420728-TC-JF-01; CL 14: 242-244


Chelsea, 28 july, 1842—

Dear Forster,

A certain wild Gallician Pole, of the name of Dr Lotsky,1 who “knows nine languages,” who has “given his name to a botanical genus,” who has travelled over South America, and done I know not what other heroic feats,—keeps buzzing about me, thro' the Penny Post, in these days, expressing the extremest ardour to be employed in some kind of Foreign Reviewing. I have seen the man only twice, for a second each time, and know next to nothing of him; in fact, literally nothing, except his physiognomy, and the report of Mazzini, neither of which rises to the epic pitch, tho' both do seem to promise some possibility if one rightly knew what! As the shortest way, I have decided on sending him to you, that your own eyes may see: you can listen to the man, decide whether he is worth a trial, and on what you can try him.2 I believe he does understand those “nine languages” of his in some tolerable measure; he writes copious and not very incorrect English; has boundless activity; the greatest faculty in searching thro' Book-collections, making Catalogues Raisonnées &c, &c; some knowledge, and the liveliest smattering of all kinds of knowledge; the basis of him I take to be a transcendent goodhumoured vanity,—I wish there were a milder word, for really it is on many sides a praiseworthy quality, that of his, and has kept him warm and happy within, many a rough cold year, when there was nothing without but nakedness, hunger and blank desolate despair! Look in those large glaring blue eyes of his, on the indomitable weatherworn Sermatic3 countenance, the kind of cynic dignity, reduced gentlemanhood, and hope springing eternal in the Hyperborean breast; and see whether “everlasting No” is the only answer he must get! It seems to me, in the hands of an adroit Editor, something might be got of him. He is ready for all and any work; straining fiercely at the leash, ready to fly, hunt and devour. Poor Lotsky!— Do you not publish “short Notices of Books”; “Scientific intelligence”; at all events, every half-year an Index? Lotsky will work like a lion; I do believe in some measure, faithfully and cheap.

For the present he has taken up some hint I gave Mazzini once of writing an Article on one Miçkiewitz (Miskiewitz they call it);4 a modern Polish Poet, whom I know by some French Translations, to be a man of real poetic talent, by far the chief Sarmat I have yet got eye on; a man surely well worth being made known to the English: but whether Lotsky is the hand for that? He will propose to “write a specimen,” I fancy. Perhaps he has some English printed stuff; for he does already write extensively in Useful Knowledge &c,5 if I mistake not: this let him exhibit to you. Say NO, if you must say it, mildly but decisively with an air of finality,—and forgive me for my sin in the business, which really I could not help!—

May I send Lotsky then on Saturday at 3 o'clock? To put him out of pain I will do that straightway. If you do not like him at that hour, pray, in the name of reduced gentlemanship and the genius of nine languages, name him another. I enclose his last Letter, received half an hour ago, where his address is. I should say, it is much the worst written of all his missives; but Chance will that this is the one you are to see.

Adieu, dear Forster.— I wrote to Chambers to send you half a dozen Begg Circulars; mine are all out long since. What spoil you can achieve with these will go in a sum by itself.

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle

P.S. I have not called you “the Editor” to Lotsky, for I know not that you are, but merely “a gentn that has something to do with the Editor.”