October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO JAMES FRASER; 5 March 1832; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18320305-TC-JFR-01; CL 6:137-138.


4. Ampton Street, Monday [5 March 1832]—

Dear Sir,

Not having time to come over today, I write without loss of time, lest some mistake occur in the interim.

It were in the highest degree unreasonable did I object, by word or thought, to the rules you have laid down for paying your Magazine Contributions; or wish you to alter these rules against your own wish or interest for my sake. I hope you will understand once for all that no such feeling has or will have place with me.1

On the other hand, it were extremely unwise, if I too had not rules for my guidance, and did not walk by them. Allow me with all clearness, as one plain-spoken man to another, to explain in few words my position towards you.

Besides your Magazine there are four other Publications, of perfect respectability, from which I have at this time applications for Contributions: the lowest offer any of these makes is the one I have proposed to you: two of them (one as I have experienced) are between a fourth and a fifth part higher. To your Magazine I have no particular attraction; it is much like others to me; much of its spirit I can approve of, much of its tone and execution and practical speculation I must disapprove of: on the other hand your personal character (allow me to say this, with the same sincerity) being, as I think, that of a thoroughly punctual, honest and even religious-principled man (almost a Phoenix in your Trade, I fear!) is of that sort with which I should decidedly wish to do business. So that on the whole Fraser's Magazine (more especially as to this Johnson, the Books &c having come from you) is a vehicle I should as soon select as one of the others.

To few or perhaps none of these Publications can I heartily write myself; but I can say to any of them: Here is a Paper which I have written according to my own belief, and notions of honest writing; will you buy it or not? If so, then well: if not, then also well.

Hereby, my dear Sir, you will perceive how the matter stands. If you do not like the Essay on Johnson on those terms, which I mentioned, which are the lowest I ever wrote for (except those scraps of mine you already had), and certainly the lowest I have any need or disposition to write for at present,—then be so good as return me the Papers without delay; I will settle with you for any damage I may have done your Croker, and neither of us will respect the other less for this arrangement or misarrangement. Hoping to hear of you tomorrow, or get back the Papers (for I must be speedy in settling about them),

I remain (in great haste) / Your's very truly / T. Carlyle2