October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO MACVEY NAPIER; 28 May 1832; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18320528-TC-MN-01; CL 6:166-169.


Craigenputtoch, 28th May, 1832—

My Dear Sir,

I now forward this story of the Corn Law Rhymes, which has been lying ready for a good while: it will meet you, as you directed, at your return, about the first of June. The little Parcel for London contains the Corn Law Rhymes themselves,1 which I borrowed from John Mill for this end; and now desire you to be so kind as transmit to him, thro' the Messrs Longman, by the first convenience you have.— Here too, let me request another favour of you about Books: To retain from the first money you have to pay me as much as will replace your copy of Taylor's Historic Survey, which I never returned, and ought long ago to have given account of, and made apology and all possible amends for. The case was this: I was called, somewhat on the sudden, to send off a Book Packet to Weimar, wherein the English Translation of Iphigenie was to form an item. No Taylor's Iphigenia could be had in the London Shops; nor elsewhere within my capabilities on so short notice: whereupon, yielding to lawless Necessity, I tied a silk-thread round that portion of your Book which contained the piece in requisition; and despatched the whole Three Volumes to my venerated Correspondent; by whom doubtless they were welcomed as quite honestly come by.2 What can I do now but repair my offense; and both for it, and for my long neglect to acknowledge and repair it, suffer according to your good pleasure?

Any Proof-sheets, Books &c will reach me here most conveniently, if inclosed under cover to “Messrs M'Kinnel & M'Kie, Booksellers, Dumfries,” and left for them at Oliver & Boyd's, Tweeddale Court; by whom a Parcel is despatched every Tuesday afternoon: what in it belongs to me, being duly cared for, gets hither within four and twenty hours. This arrangement I made three weeks ago; and hope to find very profitable. The Mail-Coach people are also safe enough: but whether our Moorland Carrier and they, on their weekly opportunity, will take the trouble of communicating remains always more or less uncertain.

I know not whether there is anything in the Signet Library, or otherwise within your reach, about Count Cagliostro: I have long had a curiosity about that “King of Quacks,” and coul[d] get little satisfaction. The Mémories de Casanova3 is another Book I should like to see. And generally if anything notable rise on your horizon, I shall request you to give me notice; my horizon here, on some sides, is limited enough.

When I shall see you cannot yet be fixed. In winter, at latest, I expect to spend some time in Edinburgh; and will then use all diligence. I am to be busy enough thro' these Summer Months; or I might run in, for a day or two, in the interim. I hope, at all events, to write you something of a more unquestionable character, ere long.

There is still another thing I have to trouble you with: an Application on behalf of the Mr Gordon4 for whom that Penny-post Letter is directed. He is diligently canvassing for the office of University Secretary, vacant by the death of Dr Duncan; and seems to hope, that should the Senatus Academicus decide for a Non-Professor, he may have a favourable chance. Twelve promised votes he already enumerates; and now would fain make an attempt on yours; with which view he writes me a most earnest Letter, that I might break the ground for him. I cannot deny the worthy help-needing man; and know, you will excuse me, and let my word do no harm, should it seem beyond my commission to meddle in such things. Gordon used to come much about me while I lived in Edinburgh: I reckon him a highly amiable, modest, meritorious character; of superior talent and attainment; nothing in him that I ever discerned but courteous, cheerful integrity, patient diligence, withal a certain lovingness and hope, that makes him a friend, and finds him friends: a man of clearness, and method, with the utmost simplicity of heart. He has long acted under Principal Baird5 and some General-Assembly's Education Committee, in a somewhat similar capacity;6 managing everything, as I believe he has documents to testify, in a really excellent way. Could he, in addition, secure this College Secretaryship, his blessedness were great; his little Life-Ship completely freighted, and felicities enough before him. From all that I can judge, he might seem, both in talent and position, rather peculiarly fitted for it. I persuade myself, you will not take it ill that I bring the wants and claims of the worthy Gordon before you: to [weigh] them in the balance, not, unless they are the weightiest, to prefer them; this [word obliterated] must be the prayer of my petition. Perhaps, if you have not already decided [the] matter (in which case a single line to Gordon were the shortest method) you w[ill] allow him to wait upon you, and state his own case.—— I had almost forgot his emphatically stated declaration, which I believe to be sincere whether important or not, that he is of no political opinion,—except perhaps of this: ‘I am born to write bad prose, and you, my worthy friends, to mend bellows, whether the stocks rise or fall.’

Ashamed of so much begging, I conclude, and subscribe myself, as always,

My Dear Sir, / Most faithfully Your's, /

T. Carlyle—