The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO JAMES JOHNSTON; 19 November 1827; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18271119-TC-JJ-01; CL 4:278-279.


21 Comley Bank, Monday [19 November 1827].

My Dear Johnstone——Alison Greave, our worthy maid-servant, is leaving us (in bad health); and so affords me a hurried opportunity of writing you a line, which otherwise were not by any means worth postage.— I promised to send you word about that London Professorship; and truly I should have done so, had there been any word to send. There was not, there still is not; except that from the general aspect of the case I augur with considerable certainty that, for me at least, nothing will come of it. Jeffrey supports me warmly; but Brougham, it would appear, fights shy: delays have intervened; they feel it to be “a most important Chair,” and are “alarmed at my German predilections,” and in short know not rightly what to make of me. Last time I saw Jeffrey, they were busy following out some quest of Dugald Stewart's; that is, inquiring after some Frenchman or other whom Dugald had recommended, and who I suspect must be a certain M. Cousin1 that takes all opportunity of lauding Dugald. They wished to see whether he could speak any English; truly an essential point.— But on the whole, for many weeks the thing has died out of our thoughts: and the truth of the matter is and was, if they should appoint me to-morrow, I should not know positively whether to laugh or weep. Meanwhile I am not a Candidate and yet before them; entitled also to refuse, if I think good and have occasion: on which footing I am content enough that the business should continue to rest. I myself am of opinion that nothing will be done for a good while; and for me, most probably nothing at any time.

I wish we had you here at present: for I am to be idle by to-morrow afternoon, and have a day or two of relaxation; having been busy for several weeks.— There is a paper of mine2 in the next Edinburgh Review, which is all printed, and will be out in a day or two. I propose now to quit the “German line” for a while, and try something else.

John wrote to you before he went away. Yesterday we had the first letter from Munich, where the poor Doctor arrived in safety about the first of November; and seems wonderstruck and thunderstruck with the novelty of his situation. He had talked one hour with Schlegel, seen the steeple of Frankfort; and, in a word, scarce knew what end of him was uppermost for very confusion. By degrees the wool-gathering wits will rally round their old flag, and the Doctor write to us in peace and composure.3

How are you and my Cousin,4 your wife? Will you send us word; or shall we not see you soon? O poor life, where sixteen miles divide as effectually as the Atlantic Ocean! Good-night, my old Friend! Do not forget me, and the wayfarings of Langsyne!—I am [ever yours],

T. Carlyle.

(The pen is very condemnable.)