January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JOHN STERLING ; 28 July 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420728-TC-JOST-01; CL 14: 240-242


Chelsea, 28 july, 1842—

Dear Sterling,

By the Catalogue of the London Library, I find there is a certain Philip Harwood who published Lectures on Strauss, our edition of which is dated 1841; I think he is a sort of Substitute or Successor of the Unitarian Fox, and writes Straussisms occasionally still in the Westminster Review:1 unless this be your man, I cannot guess farther, being much a stranger in that Strauss department: but if you bid me, I will cheerfully inquire till I do learn. I think Harwood must be he.— Marheinecke is not such a blockhead here as his Leben Luther [Life of Luther] had led me to expect.2 The Prussians, apparently, will not adopt the Anglican Shovel-hat;—heartily welcome for me! I read, the other day, half an hour in Gladstone;3 a most methodic, fairspoken, purified, clear-starched, sincere-looking man. How the human Soul can swathe itself, in formula within formula, like a very Egyptian Mummy, and still flatter itself that it is alive,—nay be alive, for commercial and some other purposes! It is to me a rather melancholy spectacle; in which, however, I discern great benefit too.

Bancroft's Book does not please me much, tho' there are good fragments in it:4 his Puritanism is but a kind of Pusey Puritanism;—alas, we are all got into Puseyism, Dilettantism, each after his sort, and fancy it a great thing if we can believe that men were men at one time, and looked rather handsome in that unexpected character! The Yankees, in addition to all, are dreadfully lengthy, and do not in the least understand where they are boring one; a most inconvenient fault.

Alcot came to me again the other day; little Paracelsus Browning, a dainty Leigh-Huntish kind of fellow,5 with much ingenuity, vivacity and Cokney gracefulness, happened to be here; and answered his solemn drawling recommendations of vegetable diet with light Cockney banter and logic; whereupon Alcot, at parting, told me “he would never come to me again!”6 No absurder Yankee Quixote has come to me of late; and yet a truly honest-hearted man;—like the Quaker who, getting to Rome and to the Pope, ordered his Holiness to forsake idolatries, and assume the broadbrim there & then

Last night I saw Stephen Spring Rice,7 who was asking after you; regretting that he had not seen you. Spedding, it seems, is on the way homewards.8 Mill also was of our party; complaining somewhat of weak health. He brought me to the head of Sloan-Street; and there we parted,—amid thunder, lightning, and rain-deluges, which lasted, loud and tumultuous, all night.

You have not fallen in with David Laing's little Shakspeare-Club Publication: Drummond's Notes of his discourse with Ben Johnson?9 I read it yesternight, not without amusement. Perhaps it may suit your Book-Society.10 However, the abstract long ago printed contains it almost all,11 I think, except the scandal and some rather black specks of smut. Ben, I rejoice to learn from his own mouth, was the grandson of an Annandale Johnstone.12 The face of him, indeed, seems almost to say as much: a rugged Pyrrhus13 of Danish or Norse blood, as they all are in that region, from Forth to Tyne.

Adieu, dear Sterling; good be ever with you. Alas I fear there is no Falmouth for me this year; my sins deserve a far other fate,—the worst sin, Idleness!

God help us all!———

T. Carlyle