TC TO JOHN STUART MILL; 12 January 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330112-TC-JSM-01; CL 6:300-305.
TC TO JOHN STUART MILL
18. Carlton Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, / 12th Jany, 1833.
My Dear Mill,
Your Letter1 lay here on the mantel-piece, to greet my arrival on Monday night; the reading of it seasoned our first cup of tea, and already gave us something of the feeling of home. I must now write to you, very hurriedly; were it only to bring our Correspondence once more into train. Any interruption of it were a loss to me at present: there is something in your honest fellow-feeling, and klare Theilnahme [clear sympathy], that I could not afford to part with. Man is infinitely precious to man! This truth one should know; and along with it the other truth, which I for many years too exclusively insisted on, that man is sufficient for himself.
We arrived here, under clouds of cigar-smoke, in perfect safety; and during the next two days, our rather multifarious Luggage had also come to hand uninjured, and been arranged in its new repositories; and again one could in some measure say, Me voici [Here I am]. We have a really pleasant spacious habitation here; on the northwest verge of the City; the Water of Leith flowing by not far on the right; left and straight forwards (for we front two ways) broad clear spaces with huge trees growing thro' the pavement, where multitudes of rooks are even now making a quite rustic melody. Edinburgh, which I wish you were here to see with me, is but a kind of village compared to London: to me with my former impressions still fresh, it all looks inexpressibly contracted, orderly, snug, as a village should; to which feeling also the many known faces you meet on the street contribute. Thus we have a pleasant feeling of homeness; and want that mighty roar of the London Life—torrent, which was alternately one of the most saddenning and one of the most inspiring sights I ever looked on; altogether a prophetic-looking sight. This place is called by the country people Auld Reekie; yet the reek here is but a faint breath of blue incense to that horrid flood of Spartan black-broth one has to inhale in London; fogs and mud therefore we happily consider as left behind us. On the other hand one must put up with much that is spiritually kleinstadtisch [provincial]: for example, I heard a man yesterday three times over characterise M'Culloch's Commercial Dictionary,2 with a look of true enthusiasm, by the epithet “stupendous.” I feel indeed that no John Mill will come in on the wednesday evenings here; but a much fainter sort of spiritual worth must suffice. One man of a sincere character, as I understand the word sincere, would never yet turn up for me in these parts. However, we must look again: we have engaged this house (properly a Floor, as you have seen in Paris) for three months; in such environment till the Spring weather return you can figure us.
I have seen Napier, and set him anew to work about these Books, which he fancies to be here with Adam Black: what the result of his efforts have been I yet know not. A vexatious business; about which however not to spoil your kindness I will not vex myself: if the Books be lost, you must let me replace them, and there will be the end. Napier I find is an old acquaintance of your Father's: I hope to find something in him, for he is not without force; meanwhile however he listens with silence and amazement to my Teufelsdreckism; being himself a solid old-established Edinburgh Whig. A plentiful species here; which begins to see however that the world is wider than it fancied, and to have qualms enough. The Radicals, I believe, are but a rabid, distracted, avoidable set of men, of the Hunt and Cobbett sort. Tait I notice has enlarged his windows very much; and hoisted a standard of Pasteboard inside, whereon in huge party-coloured letters, I read only: “M A G A Z I N E[.]” The man himself I have not yet met with.
The other Book-packet came safe; and what is more, has now been all pretty faithfully perused. I find little of worth for more than a day in that Repository; only one Paper which brought any kind of movement into me; the Authorship of which I could have sworn to after the second page.3 It is a very true thing; the writer comforts you above all by this, that he evidently has himself begun to see what a quite infinite difference there is between Schein and Seyn [seeming and being] by which great act of vision alone do all others become possible. I shall be very glad to get your next paper, and endeavour to tell you faithfully what I think of it. That reproof of the half-and-half Globe Editor I recognised in the Examiner,4 as I generally do your hand there.— Thiers is a rather good Book,5 and has taught me several things. I read it over with great avidity; following anew the developments of that frightful world-drama with a new interest. What chiefly attracts me, however, is a face of the matter in which M. Thiers unfortunately is rather uncommunicative: what I might call the private biographic phasis; the manner in which individuals demeaned themselves, and social life went on, in so extraordinary an element as that; the most extraordinary, one might say, for the “thin rind of Habit”6 was utterly rent off; and man stood there, with all the powers of Civilization, and none of its rules to aid him in guiding these. There is much that I would fain investigate farther in this sense: if you know any other Books that might forward me would you name them, for I am now beside Books. For instance, any Book about the state of the Prisons, the behaviour of the Prisoners, under Fouquier Tinville's reign?7 I have heard of a work expressly composed of Bonmots uttered on the scaffold then. More queues formed at the Baker's shops, and generally that whole business of the Assignats,8 how it worked and was endured struck me as worth looking into farther than I could yet look. Does Say9 or any of their Economists communicate a clear idea of these things anywhere? I do not so much as understand sufficiently what an Assignat was; and wished often I had been there to buy one when they were so cheap, that I might see how it was worded. Then again, is there any Life of Danton? Three men especially impressed me in that whole Revolution: Mirabeau, Danton, Bonaparte. The rest I think were mostly but common men in an uncommon environment. Danton I pardoned many things, and pitied heartily at last, the rather as I was wont once to talk of him à la Walter Scott simply as a “Tiger,” and imagine that this explained him.10 By the way, has not M. Thiers a most wonderful system of Ethics in petto [undisclosed]? He will prove to you that the power to have done a thing almost (if not altogether) gave you the right to do it: every hero of his turns out to be perfectly justified in doing whatsoever—he has succeeded in doing. This seemed to me notable; with much else in Thiers; his affected touches of the Tacitus kind; his hard, mechanical, all-for-politics disposition: characteristic, I imagine, of the modern French school generally. That morality of his especially leads far if you inquire into it.— which here, alas, I have no room to do.— I have t[he] Book Thiers, and the others, here with me, and will take care that they be not lost in an E[din]burgh Warehouse; but wish to examine some of them a little farther, if you do not need them immediately.— My Scotch Church History studies have also advanced a little; strangely blended with these French Antichurch ones; with which however they are not so incongruous as might seem. Knox's History,11 written in Scotch, with great emphasis, and a certain sardonic humour, has amused me: I find in Knox one of those unmanageable fellows who once for all have taken in hand to act and speak not respectably but honestly; and have no manner of notion that God's Truth should alter its attitude for man's pleasure, be the man who he may: a true Reformer, of the sort much wanted now and always, seldom rarer than now.
You infer that I have written little; not perhaps which is the fact that I have written absolutely nothing. Conscience will not much longer suffer this; I seldom write from any cause but the terrors of an evil conscience. What it is to be I cannot yet tell: my doors of utterance are so wonderful, one knows not how to shape thoughts such as to pass thro'. My head, as ever, is all buzzing with the Seen, the Problematical, the dim forecast of the Unseen: at every new stage, one has a new Reform Bill to pass for oneself; and then, alas, the old Temples and Theatres are all closed up, and nothing remains but the Synod of Periodicals. A troublous Time! Meanwhile, employ it; lament not over it, for in so doing thou altogether losest it. Now, however, I must pause a moment for business' sake. I have a commission or two to trouble you with again.
Will you for one thing intimate to Cochrane (39. Edwardes Square Kensington) by the Twopenny Post or any way that I am here, under this address. Secondly in regard to the coming of the Examiner, I am in a sort of puzzle which you shall now judge of. My consigner is one Thomas Holcroft (a son of the Dramatist Holcroft's, and brother-in-law to a Mr Badams a very old friend of mine): I wrote to this Holcroft, six weeks ago, a note inclosing one to Badams; they went by the same packet that took your last; and, alas, about ten days after returned to me thro' the Dead Letter Office, Holcroft having left the Adelphi ‘not known whither.’ Nevertheless the Examiner comes, and will continue to come (round by Dumfries) like a blind physical event. What am I to do? I bethink me that Holcroft is a Reporter (or was, and had long been, at least) on the Morning Herald: you can now determine whether he is discoverable in that way (or failing this, I daresay “Place the Tailor”12 knows of him); and if yea, then I will ask you to write him a Note, saying that I am here, and want the Examiner here, and Badams's address and his.13 Do you comprehend this, and will you perform it? Then are you quit for one time.—— I had much to say about friends, and somewhat about yourself: there is no room for it now. I half expected the Advocate would come today, and give me a frank; but he has not; so “the present agreeable family”14 must just profit by you again. We did not see Glen, or hear of him: I will still desire you to keep [an] eye on him, and do for him what you can, at worst be sorry for him. To Fonblanque I again send my good wishes: he must carry his Ballot-box15 ere long I think; nothing can be said against him there, for the truth must not be said. I agree with you that Roebuck16 may do something: he is not great, but he is sincere (I saw his Rousseau, and so judged of it too17): and in all times the Believer is he that conquers, the Infidel he that is conquered, and blown away.
Mrs Austin's18 Letter I found at Dumfries, as I rode down into Annandale to see my Mother before departing: I broke it up there and read it in the privacy of mine inn. I suppose my Dame will write soon: present my best wishes in the meantime, and congratulations on the near ending of Falck. Can you tell me what is this Miss Martineau19? A Socinian Liberal? Young or old? I believe Fonblanque exaggerates her wonderfully; yet is she evidently no common woman.— When is Buller to be in Town? That is a sad business of his health coupled especially with his Lavishness of Time.20 We will still hope.— I must end here, tho' I feel as if the half were forgotten. The Lady sends her love to you; also to Mrs. A.21 to whom “she will write so soon as her mind is calm![”] Bless the Mark. I now subscribe myself / Ever faithfully, / T. Carlyle—