The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO WILLIAM HANNA ; 7 June 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520607-TC-WH-01; CL 27: 140-141


Chelsea, 7 june, 1852—

My dear Sir,

A few days ago I received, and have now gone thro', with much interest and pleasure, your Fourth volume;1 for which, and for all your other kindnesses to me, accept many sincere thanks. This important work is now concluded; and I think we may safely say, is a piece of work well done on your part, and likely to be long useful to mankind. You have written throughout with an admirable candour, clearness, good-nature to all men and yet loyal fidelity to your subject and to truth, which are qualities not easy to combine in writing: on the whole it will be denied by nobody that you have given a conspicuous, minute and faithful likeness, speakingly recogniseable in all its parts, of a remarkable Man and his Life-journey; this does lie in your Book, this which was your grand aim in writing it; and to this, whatever else prove temporary, I can promise a perennial success. It is not often that the world sees men like Thomas Chalmers; nor can the world afford to forget them, or in its most careless mood be willing to do it, when they do appear, in whatever guise that be. Probably the time is coming when it will be more apparent than it now is to every one that here intrinsically was the chief Scottish man of his Time: a man curiously and perhaps beneficently limited, by his training and position, into narrow St. Andrews2 and exclusively Scottish fields of action and speculation; but possessed of such a massive geniality of intellect and temper as belonged to no other man. What a grand simplicity, broad humour blent so kindly with enthusiastic ardour and blazing insight; a man of such mild noble valour, strength and piety; above all things, of such a perfect veracity, I have not met with in these times. Honour to him;—honour belongs to him; and to the essential work he did, an everlasting continuance among the possessions of this world! I can safely congratulate you on this duty you have now done; and predict that it is a “good investment” for all the hard labour you have put into it.

The Sketches of the Free-Kirk Disruption,3 in this Last Volume, awaken many sad thoughts in me, new and old: a more obstinately blind misapprehension, by all high heads, of the matter in hand; a baser desertion of poor old Scotland by all her Official sons, was not often witnessed. But we cannot help it: we must take that too, like so much else, in silence,—or speak of it, as you do, in a manfully historical tone.

I find (to descend infinitely) twice or thrice in this volume some mention of my poor self, which cannot be other than very pleasing to me. That last visit to us here, of which there is such a beautifully innocent, clear and true little picture given, continues venerable and memorable, and cannot cease being so, to my Wife and me. The little glint that breaks out elsewhere, once at Morningside, brought out the best smile that was in me; and for the stars also (which were perfectly intelligible) I thanked a kind hand!4 In the Letter, since you have been so good as print it, let me correct one error of the press, more especially since (what is nearly unexampled in these cases) there is but one recogniseable: p. 200, l. 4 “naked parts” = “naked facts”; that is all.5

Adieu, my dear Sir. By no means neglect to call if you come to London; assure yourself, at all times, of my sincere thanks and sincere regards for your many humanities to me and manki[nd.]

Yours very truly /

T. Carlyle