The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO WILLIAM TAIT; 18 January 1828; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18280118-TC-WT-01; CL 4:307-308.


21. Comley Bank, Friday [18 January 1828]—

My Dear Sir,

Being aware that you are sometimes in the habit of buying up remainders of editions, I thought the following circumstance might be worthy of your notice; and called yesterday to tell you of it.

I have just learned that the remaining copies of my Schiller (amounting to several hundred) may be procured, in all probability, on what would be called easy terms. Taylor, the Publisher, of whom for the first time I was inquiring its fate, seems tired of it: he is “going into another branch of business,” and the Book has done him harm rather than good.1

Nevertheless it is in itself no very bad, nor even unsaleable sort of Book. The truth is, it was never advertised at all (except perhaps twice in the Examiner, and as often in some printed catalogue), never reviewed, even in the Literary Gazette, never shown, in short, either to friend or foe; but left lying in its nameless simplicity in the Waterloo Place warehouses, to get out as it could! There, I suppose, it may lie till the “wakeful trump of Doom” disturb it.

Now the other morning Dr Irving2 shows me the last vol. of Constable's Miscellany,3 and a most magnificent passage in the Preface about this very Book. Be so good as look at that before we go farther.

My own impression distinctly is that were a few pounds spent in spreading such an advertisement, and some twenty or thirty copies of the work given away to all manner of Editors, and ready-writers, the Edition might be sold at the original price, and rapidly sold at a somewhat lower one.

I speak as a literary father; having happily no other interest in the Book, except fatherly pity for it. Would you undertake to stand staunchly by me, I declare I should be tempted to buy these copies at my own expence, and risk the adventure myself! Tell me w[hat yo]u think of all this, and whether anything [can be] done. For the rest, I need not request you to be altogether secret.

I am always, / My Dear Sir, / Truly Your's, /

T. Carlyle.