April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO [EDWARD MOXON] ; 5 September 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440905-TC-EMO-01; CL 18: 196-197


Chelsea, 5 Septr, 1844—

My dear Sir:

The writer of the enclosed Note is not personally known to me;1 I have understood that he is a young Edinburgh House-painter, who, in these late years, has found his way into Literary notice and applause in that City,—not without some real talent, it may be presumed. He has sent forth two Books, somewhat in the style of a Scotch Dickens, tho' with a great deal more of verse than Dickens uses; the Books are called the Gaberlunzie Man, and the Miller of Deanhaugh;2 I think they were published in monthly parts; I saw them in the Collected State, and looked thro' them both, with considerable recognition of real worth in the man. A beautiful innocent sympathetic character is everywhere manifest; felicitous touches of graphic insight;—in the verses especially a certain wild genuine music, a strange ragged picturesqueness, free-flowing breadth of rhythm, and general sincerity and melody in all the senses of these words: undoubtedly there is something Poetic in this Ballantine. The whole coupled with some unripeness of judgement,—I should say decided unripeness; if indeed he be completely ripenable on that side. His verses are his strong part; and these hitherto, I think, are almost all in the Scotch dialect.— This is pretty exactly a transcript of my impression about Ballantine; neither over nor under, so far as I can help it.

By his Note you see what it is he now requests. If you upon these data feel justified to undertake a real inspection of his Poem,3 I shall be very glad if you will do it. You do not bind yourself to accept the thing; but only not to reject it except on real examination.

Will you be so kind as decide me this, on practical business grounds (for those alone should come into play); and if your answer be No, pray let me have the Ballantine Note back.

Yesterday I forwarded a little Book for Miss Martineau,4 which I suppose you have received and will remember in due time.

Believe me always / Yours most truly

T. Carlyle