The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO MATTHEW ALLEN; 8 October 1820; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18201008-TC-MAL-01; CL 1:278-279.


Mainhill, 8th October, 1820.

My dear Sir,

According to your anticipation, Mr Hutton1 did write—about a week after your letter—and generously proposed to come as far as Dumfries for the purpose of an interview; I assented of course, but suggested the preferable advantages of Annan; Ecclefechan was then fixed upon, and I calculated that my present letter would release you from all farther trouble about this business; when ‘indispensable necessity’—so said the Gentleman's letter of last night—compelled him to abandon that plan, and invite me to see you in the city of York—he ‘cheerfully’ paying travelling expenses—that so this affair may be completely arranged by a personal conference at last. I again assented, for there is no hard stuff in me: and hence you are to look for my arrival very shortly. As I still preserve some faint glimmerings of sanity, I cannot aspire to a lodging at the Asylum; but if during the interim you could find me any decent place of abode for a few days, and situated so that we may be very near each other,—it would be the last exertion required of you on this occasion, tho' not, as your indolence might hope, the last of all, with which, for the sake of your sins, it is foreordained that you shall be saddled on my account. I have a kind of natural antipathy to inns: but if you find this requisition difficult to comply with, I can make shift in one of those establishments for the brief space necessary. Therefore be not too anxious.

I cannot speak absolutely about the time of my arrival. I purpose to be in Carlisle about 7 o'clock on Wednesday morning:2—where after is known only to the Fates—and to the coach proprietors of that venerable city. Inspecting the map, there seems to be a probability of your hearing from me on Thursday-morning—on Friday at all events, except for want of health or some other unfor[e]seen cause.

Should the Squire and I conclude a bargain, I shall certainly require to be ‘drilled’— Any way I expect much pleasure from talking over old byegone things, from discussing Spürzheimism,3 Whiggism, Church-of-Englandism, and all other imaginable isms. There is a kind of delight in taking the bit out of Pegasus his mouth, and suffering him to caper and curvet and career, as best beseems him, thro' all the spheres and vortices of this immortal mind.— As for the ‘christian lectures’4—if my influence were any thing but a nonentity in the republic of letters, I would most cheerfully lend it to forward that performance; both for the sake of its author and the Public, which labouring at present under a hot fever, needs anodynes more than ought else. Have you sent copies to all the reviewers, magazine editors and others of that tribe? Is your bo[ok]seller [a] man of dexterity and influence?—the mob [is an] obtuse animal, and if amid this flourish of royal drums and trumpets,5 intermingled with the universal crash of weavers' treadles and a boundless hurlyburly, the ‘small still voice’6 should fail to attract much notice, you must not be disheartened. Try the hydra on a different side—the hydra prejudice—and you will see the black gore flow at last.— But why do I talk thus—while so hurried and so soon expecting to see you? Because I am a thoughtless being and as loquacious, tho' still as formerly,

My dear Sir, / Most truly Yours' /

Thomas Carlyle