August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO JOHN ROBERTSON ; 9 August 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430809-TC-JRO-01; CL 17: 27-28


Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan, 9 Augt, 1843—

Dear Robertson,

There is no doubt whatever that I once read Mr Buchan's former volume or volumes of Scotch Ballads; but the impression they have left with me is to the last degree dim! Some reminiscence of innocent old doggrel,—which, alas, I have a suspicion, seemed to be eked out with new: this, in a faint, vague, half-distracted condition, is all I can fish out of memory's depths on that subject. Clear only, or in some degree clear, is the Portrait opposite the Frontispiece: a lean-visaged, crane-necked, scraggy-bearded human figure, with an air of enthusiasm, simplicity, distraction and ill luck, subscribed “Peter Buchan”;—as if appealing to all benevolent mortals: “I Peter Buchan am actually extant here; can any of you tell me why?”

Under these circumstances I will certainly subscribe to Peter's new Book, and wish him all sale and success with it, poor fellow; but to recommend it, or sanction it in any other way, is beyond my commission.— Pray tell him what is agreeable about this, carefully in your benevolence suppressing the rest; and do the best you can for the poor man.

I have been wandering in Wales, South and North amid Rebecca-riots, rain-tempests, multiplied confusions; and am right glad to have got to rest here for a few days. Next month perhaps I may hope to see you again in Babylon.1

Yours faithfully there or here

T. Carlyle