July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO JOHN STUART MILL; 22 July 1836; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18360722-TC-JSM-01; CL 9:14-16.


Chelsea, Friday Night [22 July 1836]

My dear Mill,

No Surgeon can touch sore places with a softer hand than you do.1 I have read over your Paper repeatedly, and pencilled notes on it: I have waited these two days for a little leisure, above all for a fit humour to unroll the Article again, and seek and decide. Neither the leisure not the fit humour comes. I looked at some of the marginalia the day they came but not with a pen in my hand. That of doomed I remembered not to have been right but also that at the moment I could not make it righter: there is an alteration here on a little slip, which you may introduce if you can find it. Also strike out the sentence of Danton you object to (and change the audace2 too if you like); so too of the line to which you say si vous y tenez: these two erasures will be improvements. I also noticed (I think) something you had changed about St Simonism;3 here too your pencilling seemed better than the penwork. The rest I must leave you to manage yourself. Pray pardon me. It seems to my sick feeling, as if I could not open that fatal Ms. again for a guinea; as if should I once break the skin of it again, I should only by much pain make it worse.— My opinion of Dumont4 I think is not much different from yours;5 certainly not hostile, not disrespectful: he had a better notion of Mirabeau than the world had at that time, yet very far from a just one; and his has now become a kind of ridiculous one, and ought to pay the penalty of having arranged itself, even so far, on the side of a little world against a great man. I feel however as if D. had got rather more than enough; and, justice above all being the rule, I will help him if I can in anything. I keep your Paper, and when the Proofsheets come, will take what account of it is possible.

Indeed, if we have any business of this kind to do again, I imagine it will be better to leave it altogether for that joyful stage of the process: one is in spirits about the thing; one's hand is in. Write down whatsoever thing you have to remark; and let it lie before me then. I think I can say that there is no man whose remark I should feel more bound to consider in such a case. There is no man living of whose remark I should know so certainly beforehand these two important particulars: that it meant something and very clearly understood what it did mean; also that it had taken the pains to understand me, and was, far beyond my deserts, generous and well-affected towards me.

As to my quarrel with the Nominative-and-verb,6 I do assure you it is one that I daily reflect on with great sorrow; but it is not a quarrel of my seeking. I mean, that the common English mode of writing has to do with what I call hearsays of things; and the great business for me, in which alone I feel any comfort, is recording the presence, bodily concrete coloured presence of things;—for which the Nominative-and-verb, as I find it Here and Now, refuses to stand me in due stead. Hence our quarrel; and separation, really an unblessed one! I do believe however that I have not taken all I could have got from this poor N.-and-V.: but I will do it—more and more as I grow wiser.

On the whole I am too much in the state the Scotch Pedlar thought the Londoners in: “A very good people Ma'am, very clever people; but terribly aff for a lANGitch.”7

Du Hausset8 is extremely entertaining. I have lost all my anger at poor Pompadour; am full of compassion for her, of kindliness towards her.9

I know not what I have written here, only what I meant to write. I have been writing all day, and my eyes are half closed with sleep. Since I quitted you on Monday morning I have hardly spoken three words to any living creature.— Yours always

T. Carlyle.