January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO WILLIAM TAIT; 27 January 1830; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18300127-TC-WT-01; CL 5:64-65.


Craigenputtoch, 27th Jany [1830]—

My Dear Sir,

I am much obliged to you for Tytler,1 which I have read with pleasure and not without profit: it is a smooth, easy Book; seems well-founded, accurate, authentic; and without pretending to be a classical History, may well enjoy several years of extensive popularity. I shall be very glad to see the First and all the other Volumes, when they appear. Mr Chambers's Books, especially his Picture of Scotland, and Songs,2 would also be a treat to me. Your kind offer, you perceive, is not to be barren or unfruitful, in my case.

I am sorry to find that my worthy friend, the Doctor,3 is still only ‘fighting the good fight’;4 more especially that you are his armed adversary. On the whole, it does seem rather hard in him to insist on the Letter of his bargain, under all these circumstances; the rather as his Book is not yet written, and may be sold for its true worth to some other Publisher, or be left unsold with little lost labour. However, I hope you will compromise the matter: the Doctor I have never found an unreasonable man, indeed always perfectly the reverse, even to a notable degree in some instances: and I trust, most of his quarrels with the Bookselling and other departments of the world, have arisen rather in harsh management on their part, than in unfairness on his. Let me hope, as I earnestly wish, it will all be soon settled, and without open or secret hostility on either side.

It must have been Ben Nelson of Annan that you saw in the Coach;5 one of the clearest, most intelligent men I have ever met; with head enough to furnish half a dozen Outer-house Authors,6 and Gaze[tteer-men?], and yet employed only in importing Timber, and exchanging Wool with Tar! So strangely are our lots ordered in this world: a Castlereagh governs Britain, and a Burns hatchels [jogs along with] flax in Irvine, nay cannot hatchel it to any profit.

If your travels ever lead you into these wildernesses, you will find a tight roof, and a warm welcome in the middle of the heaths.

I remain always,

My Dear Sir, / Truly Your's, /

Thomas Carlyle—