October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO LEIGH HUNT; 18 April 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340418-TC-JHLH-01; CL 7:130-133.


Craigenputtoch, 18th April, 1834—

My Dear Sir,

Your Letters are rare, too rare, in their outward quality of sequence thro' the Post; but happily still rarer in their inward quality: the hope and kind trustful sympathy of new Eighteen dwelling unworn under hair, which you tell me is getting tinged with grey! It is actually true that we are coming to London; so far have Destiny and a little Resolution brought it. The kind Mrs Austin, after search enough, has now (we imagine) found us a House; which I hope and believe is not very far from yours: it shall be farther than my widest calculation, if I fail to meet your challenge, and walk and talk with you to all lengths. I know not well how Chelsea lies from the Parish Church of Kensington; but it is within sight of the latter that we are to be; and some “trysting-tree”1 (do you know so much Scotch?) is already getting into leaf, as yet unconscious of its future honour, between these two suburbs of Babylon. Some days too we will walk the whole day long, in wide excursion; you lecturing me on the phenomena of the region, which to you are native: my best amusement is walking; I like, as well as Hadrian himself, to mete out my world with steps of my own, and so take possession of it.2 But if to this you add Speech! Is not Speech defined to be cheerfuller than Light, and the Eldest Daughter of Heaven?3 I mean articulate discourse of reason,4 that comes from the internal heavenly part of us; not the confused gabble, which (in so many millions) comes from no deeper than the palate of the mouth; which it is the saddest of all things to listen to, a thing that fills one alternately with sorrow and indignation, and at last almost with a kind of horror and terror. As if the world were a huge Bedlam; and the sacred Speech of men had become an inarticulate jargon of hungry cawing rooks!

We laid down your description of your House,5 as the model our kind Friend was to aim at: how far we have prospered will be seen. In rent it appears we are nearly on a par; we also anticipate quiet and some visitations of the heavenly air: but for the rest, ours will be no “high-wainscotted dwelling,”6 like Homer's and yours; no, some new-fangled brick-booth, which will tremble at every step, in which no four-footed thing can stand but only three-footed; such as “Holland Street, Kensington,” in this year of Grace, can be expected to yield. However, there is a patch of Garden, or indeed two patches; I shal[l] have some little crib for my Books and Writing-table; and do the best that may be. Inn[umerable], immeasurable vague forebodings hang over me as I [write]; meanwhile there is one grand assurance: the feeling [that] it was a duty, almost a necessity. My Dame too [is full] of resolution for the enterprise, and whatsoever may follow it; so, Forward in God's name!

I have seen nothing of you for a long time, except what of the “Delicacies of Pigdriving” my Examiner once gave me.7 A most tickling thing; not a word of which can I remember, only the whole fact of it, pictured in such subquizzical sweet-acid geniality of mockery, stands here, and, among smaller and greater things, will stand. If the two volumes are of that quality, they will be worth a welcome. I cannot expect them now till the beginning of May; or perhaps I may even still find them with Fraser at Whitsuntide. Here among the Moors they were best of all.

The starting of your Journal8 was a glad event for me; it seemed one of the hopefullest projects in these days; and surely it must be a strange Public, one would think, in which Robert Chambers (a very silly kind of man) prospers and Leigh Hunt fails.9 You must bear up steadily at first; it is there, in this as in all things, that the grand difficulties lie.

Thornton need be under no uneasiness about Henry Inglis, from whom we heard not long ago, with some remark too of a very friendly character about the Traveller in question, and not the faintest hint about pounds or shillings.10

I am writing nothing; reading, above all things, my old Homer and Prolegomena enough; the old Song itself with a most Singular delight.11 Fancy me as reading till you see me; then must another scene open.— Your Newspapers will interest me; as for the unhappy Sartor none can detest him more than my present Self; there are some ten pages rightly fused and harmonious; the rest is only welded or even agglomerated, and may be thrown to the swine.

All salutations from us both! valete et nos amate [farewell and love us]!

T. Carlyle