The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO WILLIAM STIRLING ; 9 November 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18521109-TC-WS-01; CL 27: 353-354


Chelsea, 9 Novr, 1852—

Dear Stirling,

I have read your beautiful little Book,1 the Copy of it you sent me; and wish to say to you, in some authentic manner, and apart from private gratitudes which ought not to bribe my judgement, that I like your work extremely well indeed. You have read faithfully, in all senses of the word read,—books, mined houses, far-off stony vallies, what of instructive, or promising to instruct, have you not “read,” and perused with eyes and mind:—and, far better and never,2 you have honourably sifted your reading, and well chosen the corn, blowing away into limbo such cargoes of chaff also which you had! If I add now that the style is to be praised,—correct, concise, lucid and sunny (a handsome cross between Scott and Gibbon,3 with a nice dash of satiric goodhumour all the way), what more is to be said? I prophesy an honourable success to your little Book; and feel that, in the best circles (for we have “circles” from Olympus down to Tartarus again at present), it will be praised by those that themselves deserve praise.4

For my own part I have read it pleasantly and even profitably, tho' I care little or nothing for your big Flemish Kaiser, with his long head and weary hanging jaw, with his remarkably active stomach and remarkably (not to say damnably) torpid soul and conscience, wherever the Catechism and Reichskanzlei [state chancellery] left him;—a man without real originality, and, in that high place and century, very liable to be damned, I shd think! Still less do the Spanish spotted-leopards attach me;—very bright to look upon, but intrinsically feline, narrow, barren, and worthy mostly of damnation (or oblivion), I apprehend. Nevertheless, this is what you have done for me in regard to them; this that I described above.5

I again solemnly invite you back to Scotland with your writings and spiritual endeavourings! But you won't come; you will stay in the adust unfruitful South, with its strange half-moonish monmouth-streets of Old-Clothes suits,6 smelling considerably of garlic.—— The Lord love you any way: any way and anywhere I am glad to see you. Yours with thanks

T. Carlyle