October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO HENRY INGLIS; 28 April 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340428-TC-HI-01; CL 7:137-140.


Craigenputtoch, 28th April, 1834—

My Dear Sir,

Your Books return to you today, which have lain here finished these two weeks, waiting for an opportunity that seemed safe. I hope you will receive them uninjured; you certainly receive them with many just thanks, for they were most kindly sent, as many others have been, and afforded me great entertainment, as well as a fair modicum of profit too. Heyne is a huge quarry; in which, however, tho' under chaotic quarrylike arrangement, all manner of needful materials lie: I have dug hither and thither thro' him, and found several things. Blackwall one may call a flare of trumpet-music, in the bravura style too common in his time and since; sweet enough but meaningless or nearly so. The best of all, to his bulk, is Payne Knight; a sound, methodical, compact man, worthy of all acception. Let me add only of the brave Voss, that if you at any time want a translation of Homer, you will find Voss's not only the best of that old Singer, but perhaps the best ever excecuted of any Singer, under such circumstances: a really effectual work, which one rejoices to look into, true, genuine to the heart in every line. And so here ends for the present my intercourse with Homer: I have read several Books of his Rhapsody as with spectacles, and diligently surveyed all the rest; and leave it with increased knowledge, and love it better than any other Book, I think, except the Bible alone. It is not the richest intrinsically perhaps, but the richest-oldest, and stands in such an environment as no other.1

Here too, I believe, my kind Friend, ends your Book-dealings with Craigenputtoch, for all things have an end! Never more, it is like, will you send me Books hither; this scene of your activity terminates now, and truly in retiring you have a right to say Plaudite,—or rather Plaude, (for it is I that am interested in it), which thinking of all your attentiveness I can well assure you that I heartily do.2 Probably the Newspaper I sent might indicate to you that we were bound for London. It is even so: we go thither at Whitsunday; to what fates the Upper Powers have provided us, for hitherto it is as dark and vague as you could fancy. One must take the flood, and swim in it with a stout heart and an open eye.3 The whole aspect of Existence has long ceased to give me any transcendent terror; I know it of old to be hollowness and foam and theatrical sham, yet with an Eternity lying beyond it, looking thro' it, which is true. Considering all this, what manner of man ought ye to be,—whether your forks be of silver, or ye have no forks at all! The life of an Author, which is now mine without remedy, is externally, and too often internally, among the most difficult and painfullest given to man; nevertheless to this also, with all its heights and depths, one must address himself: pray for me only that I do not become a Scoundrel;—in the highest garret I have no other prayer.

Our address, I imagine, will be 4. Holland Street, Kensington;4 but till after tomorrow this is not quite certain: however, I will take care to send you some token; some special written notice if we are not to anchor there. A Dumfries Newspaper or some such thing may serve to affirm, if that is all that is wanted; for I am like to be very much hurried. We count too that we shall see you from time to time; oftener there than we could do here. I would not have you forget me: when I look up towards Edinburgh now, there is almost nothing else that it gives me much pain to part from. My much respected Motherland has given me much, much of priceless value; but of men that I love no great overplus.

And now, my Friend, quitting your end of the Island, my last and continual advice is, stand by the Truth, tho' the Arch-Devil hindered you! A man has no other footing in this world, but what is mere pasteboard, which vanishing in reek [smoke], he sinks to endless depths. Another precept, which perhaps I myself need more than you, is, Not to hate, only to pity and avoid, those that follow Lies. Patience! Patience! whosoever is not against us is for us.5 The noisiest of Gigmen, is not his Gig-spring already breaking? Alas, it inevitably breaks; and he—whither goes he! Out of thy way, at any rate. And so

Jog on, jog on the footpathway,
And merrily bend the stile-a:
A merry heart goes all the day,
A sad one tires in a mile-a.6

You see in what a state my Pen is; otherwise I had much more of this sort to dilate on. Better as it is!

Did I tell you that your friend TeufelsDRÖCKH is publishing his lucubrations in a London Magazine? The Public seems to receive him with fixed ba[yonets.] Little wonder. I hope to forward you a complete copy so soon as the business is done; perhaps some two months hence.

Your letter gave both of us not a little amusement, and a better sort of satisfaction than that; as all your letters do. I pray you forget not to send us a word now and then when we are farther off. Moir never writes; and at best only shews himself as thro' a keyhole, when he does. Nevertheless I have kindness for the good little man; and beg you again to tell him so—in the politest speech you have.

With friendliest wishes and hopes, wherein your good Dame is not forgotten, and mine heartily joins, I bid you farewell. May God bless you always!

T. Carlyle.

Leigh Hunt wrote lately, after long silence; and spoke of Thornton's loan from you with fit gratitude, and in fit style: T. was in distress that you had not written to him since the payment; but I reassured the poor people.