October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO JOHN STUART MILL; 22 February 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340222-TC-JSM-01; CL 7:100-102.


Craigenputtoch, 22nd Feby, 1834—

My Dear Mill,

Did you write last Monday, and again miss the Post? I had decided on hearing from you that day. It is true, you wrote, when I count it by the Almanac, not so long ago:1 but there is no sating of me in that matter. At the very lowest estimate of my demands (had one only to demand in this world, and not to give and get), you should sit down every Sunday instead of going to sermon, and fill me say only three sheets with the cover; which I could read on Wednesday night again by way of Practical Sermon, having also failed to hear one at Church. But alas, as hinted, should not I then have to answer in the same ratio!

You are to learn at present two little pieces of news. The first is that your Books, all that I had here, were sent off some two weeks ago to Tait of Edinburgh, whom I had previously requested to forward them. I have yet got no notice of receipt or progress from him; but they must be in his hands since the time I mention, and may, we shall hope, reach you with his March Magazines. The Parcel was packed with my best skill, and directed in my clearest hand, “John S. Mill, India House, London”: it contained Roland (3), Morellet (2), Paris Revolutionnaire, Bulwer, Coningsby; in short all that I had of yours, to my knowledge, except the Repositories: there was an invoice and no other writing. If I do not soon hear from Tait, or else that the Parcel is arrived, I will write to him: however there is little fear of such a confusion as we had in the Napier case; Tait is a punctual character, and used to such things.

Another piece of tidings is that Adolphe's Parcel arrived, and is already all read. The Hénault is a fine old Book, of the kind wanted; there was no Departmental Map, nor Dictionary; the two Quartos on the Diamond Necklace contained much that was or will be of service: the Portraits all but two, and about a fourth part of the Mémoires were quite new to me. You must next tell me How much money I owe for all these valuables? Thank Ado[l]phe very heartily for his great and ready assiduity. You are not to be thanked, it would seem; or may “thank yourself”—for getting so much trouble on your hands.2

Within these last weeks several things have passed with me. I have been not a Candidate, yet a kind of inquiring Applicant for a public Situation: what, you will never guess. No other than that of Astronomical Observer and Professor in the City of Edinburgh! It seemed to me a cold trade, yet a pure one; one at which I could honestly work, were the very God of Flies3 to become dominant; and my need of some craft to make bread by, when I look at the present posture of Author-craft, seems not inconsiderable. However it was otherwise appointed. Lord Advocate Jeffrey answers in the shrillest negative: the place, not in his gift, is for some emeritus Clerk of his; and I gather thus much, which in my present posture is something, “Lean no ounce of thy weight on that side; there too thou art the most unpromotable of men.”

But now comes properly my second piece of news, which is greater than all the rest. Within the last three days we are actually talking in a quite practical way of a removal to London this Whitsuntide! My Dame is at this moment writing to Mrs Austin about houses: do you see her, and aid if you can. And so we are to meet then? Yes, I pray and hope so. It is but a cutting and tearing asunder once for all of a number of ties, a leaving of Brothers and a Mother; a taking that considerable plunge, and swimming while you can hold out, sinking when you can no longer do it. Except in the little circle of my own kindred, I know of no soul out of London, whose society cheers or fortifies me: in this circle free working is impossible; why not London then? You know me as professing Antigigmanism in all senses, and openly proclaiming it: food and raiment of some kind shall not be denied me (or I will make a far tougher struggle yet); with these one can toil cheerfully not for the Devil; and know the Love of Brother men, of a like heart: and a few y[ears] ends it; and the question, as I continually say, becomes not [what] Wages hadst Thou? but What work didst thou?4 So we will venture: andar con Dios [go with God]!

Write to me soon, soon.— On second thoughts, I fancy, perhaps Knox might be the better of those papers to begin with. Or perhaps neither of them may look suitable: I shall understand it better by and by— You will be amazed to hear of me reading a Greek Homer: such [is] my employment daily at the otherwise stupid hour of five. I like the old fellow real[ly] amazingly; he does more good than I can express; creates a whole Portici [gallery of characters] [word obliterated] (so cheaply) under my Kilmarnock Bonnet. Adieu, dear Mill!

T. C.