The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO HENRY HART MILMAN ; 21 June 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410621-TC-HHM-01; CL 13: 157-159


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, / 21 june, 1841—

My dear Sir,

Accept many thanks for your kind gift of Nala,1 which I have read with great interest and pleasure. Such a Translation was well worth making, since you could so make it. Whether, indeed, that fine trumpet music to which we rhythmically march with such satisfaction, come altogether from the Sanscrit, none of us knows,—except yourself!2 But come from where it may, it is very fine. An ancient earnest spirit reigns in the old Poem: in curious dialect, great rude traits of human passions, human destinies, disclose themselves;—aliquid humani [some human element] from which no homo [man] of us, in what dialect soever he may speak, can be entirely a foreigner.3

I like the other pieces too; great Cyclopean things. What a head of hair that God must have had, which could hold the Ganges running in it for half a century or more!4

Since I saw you I have also read the Moallakat and other Eastern things.5 A beautiful Book might be gleaned out of Jones, by taking merely his Translations which are almost all good, and leaving out his Disquisitions and Originalities which are all of an entirely transitory character. Strange how Antar6 the savage Bedoween still lives, and learned Jones, the civilized Professor and Doctor, is already dead;—like a rootless cut branch, never so well planted, which no watering could keep from getting rapidly brown!

When are our Oriental Books to be got into the Library? I hope soon, and also well.— I am to come to you if I can next Saturday, and propose the speedy printing of some kind of Alphabetical List (not a Librarian's Catalogue at all, but a mere Auctioneer's List, of the simplest sort, till we have time for a Catalogue proper) of what Books we have or are soon to get: a thing for which all manner of subscribers are dunning me. I incline to think it might answer. We could print it as the roughest of Pamphlets, and cover the expences by selling it to Subscribers at a shilling each; moreover, if we had a man to hawk it thro' the world, would it not be the best of all Advertisements for us?7 Pray consider this. Our Bookshelves at present are a chaos, in which no reader can find his way; and before a regular “class catalogue” can be in readiness there may be many months and much complaining.

The daylight fails me, and I take my leave.

With many thanks, / Yours always truly

T. Carlyle

Revd H. H. Milman.