January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO RICHARD MONCKTON MILNES ; 3 February 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420203-TC-RMM-01; CL 14: 34-35


Chelsea, 3 feby, 1842—

Dear Milnes,

In all probability you, like a zealous Conservative, have got to Town today;1 whereupon I give you my welcome, my benediction. Many welcomes!——

You have heard me speak of Erasmus Darwin, the prophet who destines you for Rogers's successor2— It is for his sake I write at present. He is to be balloted for at the Atheneaum3 on Monday first; and begs me to beg you to support him, at least not to blackball him, there and then. The worth of the man, and his many kindnesses to me in Late years, make this a sort of duty on my part. Accept then, good Friend that you are, the following exact certificate of the Darwinian qualities and elegebilities,4 with your customary patience; and then, believing it all fact, do in it what your own Daemon of Socrates prescribes as right.

Erasmus Darwin is grandson of the celebrated Zoonomic Dr Darwin: a scholar, of Cambridge and Edinburgh, traveller (in Germany, Italy &c); a man of much intelligence, shrewd sense, and most becoming modesty, reticence and composure; one of those rare men whose worth will seem greater in the seventh year of one's acquaintance than in the first! He “keeps his own cab and tiger,” a man of independent means; leads silently a literary life; well seen at aesthetic and other soirees,—bringing, if he bring anything, good, and not evil or offense, to all manner of men and companies. He is one of those invaluable men (rare as above) who can in a suitable manner hold their peace! A man of true simplicity and dignity united; one of the most perfectly well-bred men I have ever seen,—well-bred to the very heart. He is of tall lean, handsome and intelligent-looking figure; his age may be some 34.5—— Such a man is eligible to Athenaeums? or will a Poet Milnes blackball him?

The above description is accurately true. It would give me pleasure, since this Darwin wishes it, could he be elected. Can I in any other way assist him, or try to assist him?

And so praying for a happy meeting and a speedy, and leaving you meanwhile to your Socrates' Daemon,6

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle