October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO LEIGH HUNT; 21 March 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330321-TC-JHLH-01; CL 6:e4.


4. Great King Street, Edinburgh 21st March 1833—

My Dear Sir,

Your young Artist1 shall be most welcome to us, if you will send him, and he will consent to the journey. Let him come, and pioneer the way for his Father; perhaps both of you, some luckier day, may be persuaded thither.

We have removed into this new Dwelling, and have now the choice to continue here till May.2 After that, we return to the “whinstone stronghold,” in the wilderness; and have no prospect of quitting it all summer. Such a youth as you describe, whose son soever he were, would be a kind of treasure in our solitude. We can promise him sufficient shelter from the elements, the healthiest air, rest, liberty, and the feeling of friends. To the Painter scarcely anything out of Chaos could be more unpicturesque than our environment; nothing but the everlasting desolation of the Moors and Mountains, with black Galloway Beeves3 and red Galloway Drovers: nevertheless this too, as I often say, is a part of God's Creation, and has its significance; to your Son it will be all of the strangest, and at that age whatsoever is new has charm enough. I fancy he may spend his vacation rather pleasantly with us; and both profit us and himself. In regard to health, as already hinted, Craigenputtoch ranks high; has proved its superiority and supremacy on all that have resided there,—except the Master and Mistress, who indeed I suppose are incurables. Let the matter then so far as our vote can go be considered as settled. Perhaps if our young Friend were to join us here, and, after looking at Edinburgh, go home with us, it might be the smoothest method for him. But whatever way you find most suitable will of itself suit us; and by an exchange of Letters the whole can quite easily be arranged.

Jeffrey expresses himself highly content with you. He is, as you have read on his countenance and manner, a thoroughly good-hearted man; ready at all times to do good, were it only as a pleasant kind of luxury. In a character wholly sceptical I have never elsewhere seen so much beneficence, affectionateness, perennial belief—in the best of all creeds. “Nature will return, tho' you drive her out with pitchforks.”4

Many thanks for your defence of me. But the Advocate too has reason to call me “austere”;5 one has to “set his face like a flint” against so many things in this world: neither can any Lord find it very sweet that you (in spite of yourself) strip him of his Lordship, and meet him as a naked son of Adam, better than yourself or worse. I believe, in truth, no Lord alive can stand this better than his Lord-Advocateship: but with him too it is a kind of trial.

Few men have such a passion as I for old Newspapers; especially in the Moorlands. We read the Examiner weekly and a Dumfries Courier (the insipidest of Swim-with-the-streams); and except by the bounty of friends, hear in general no other news whatever. An occasional True Sun, addressed in a friend's hand would be a pleasant little business.6 Unfortunately however we have only two posts in the week: Wednesday (your London Monday): and Saturday (your Thursday).— Cobbett, as you say, does hit the nail on the head. “Gentlemen you [can] make what pretty Laws you like, and produce bursts of parliamentary eloquence till your tongues weary: but the melancholy fact is, the people cannot get any victuals, and cannot (and also will not) do without some.”7 This is the grand soul of all the innumerable Revolutions going on now over all Europe; I calculate that it may be a century or two before there come any end to them. Alas, they tend whither no Whig Premier dare whisper to himself even in dreams.

And now for the present adieu. You will write to us soon; and also if it be possible, long. When the grand Expedition is once adjusted, no doubt we shall have timely warning. Meanwhile, all good be with you and yours. “Stout heart to stay brae (steep hill),” as our Scottish adage says; and despair of nothing!

I remain ever, / My Dear Sir, / with true regard, /

T. Carlyle—