1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO STEPHEN SPRING RICE; 16 April 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18540416-TC-SSR-01; CL 29: 64-66


Chelsea, 16 April, 1854—

Dear Spring Rice,

A certain Mr Allingham, lately of Coleraine, whom I have occasionally seen for some years past, has just been here; bewailing his sad and very foolish situation: How, about two months ago (under the influence of opium, taken in some bodily disorder, as he now thinks), he gave up his good appointment in the Customhouse Service, and came to London to live by Literature; how he finds the life by Literature, a mere life of misery and impossibility; longs vehemently to be back to his Customhouse again, never to quit it more; and has written to you, imploring your help and counsel in the matter.1

What you and your fellow Commissioners may find good, or even may be able to do, in so peculiar a case, I do not presume to conjecture, and will not attempt influencing: but I can certify with considerable freedom that this poor Allingham does really seem to me a young man of superior worth and faculty, a perfectly honest, ingenious and even genial young man; that this sad escapade into the regions of “Literature,” which is not likely to be repeated, is perhaps pardonable when all the circumstances are considered;—that, on the whole, if you can save such a youth from the consequences of his one error, it will probably be well worth doing, a blessed mercy to him, and to the public perhaps an advantage too (for really there is a good stuff in this young man, and his rustic delusions have been terribly shaken out of him in these two last months): in fine, that it would give a certain friend of yours real pleasure if such did prove the fact and issue arrived at; on this latter point there is no manner of doubt! And so I will leave it with you; having indeed nothing more that is definitely clear to me to say on the subject; and trusting well that the Native Humanities will not be voiceless in you, however vocal other stricter considerations may be, in settling this piece of business.

My Wife saw the Taylors2 today, who, except some little matter out of squares with one of the children, reported all well. From Aubrey3 and others I am rejoiced to learn that you are prospering at Torquay;4 and that, the hard months now happily over, we may hope soon to recover you to your old haunts as vigorous as ever. Which is right good news to many.

If the Lady5 is with you, pray offer her my respects. I remain always

Yours sincerely /

T. Carlyle