The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO LEIGH HUNT ; 17 June 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500617-TC-JHLH-01; CL 25: 97-98


Chelsea, 17 june, 1850—

Dear Hunt,

I have just finished your Autobiography,1 which has been most pleasantly occupying all my leisure these three days; and you must permit me to write you a word upon it, out of the fulness of the heart, while the impulse is still fresh to thank you. This good Book, in every sense one of the best I have read this long while, has awakened many old thoughts, which never were extinct, or even properly asleep, but which (like so much else) have had to fall silent amid the tempests of an evil time,—Heaven mend it! A word from me, once more, I know, will not be unwelcome, while the world is talking of you.

Well, I call this an excellently good Book; by far the best of the autobiographic kind I remember to have read in the English Language; and indeed, except it be Boswell's of Johnson, I do not know where we have such a Picture drawn of a human Life as in these three volumes. A pious, ingenious, altogether human and worthy Book; imaging, with graceful honesty and free felicity, many interesting objects and persons on your life-path,—and imaging throughout, what is best of all, a gifted, gentle, patient and valiant human Soul, as it buffets its way thro' the billows of the time, and will not drown, tho' often in danger; cannot be drowned, but conquers, and leaves a track of radiance behind it: that, I think, comes out more clearly to me than in any other of your Books;—and that I can venture to assure you is the best of all results to realise in a Book or written record. In fact this Book has been like an exercise of devotion to me: I have not assisted at any sermon, liturgy or litany, this long while, that has had so religious an effect on me. Thanks in the name of all men. And believe along with me that this Book will be welcome to other generations as well as to ours. And long may you live to write more Books for us; and may the evening sun be softer on you (and on me) than the noon sometimes was!

Adieu dear Hunt (you must let me use this familiarity, for I am an old fellow too now as well as you). I have often thot of coming up to see you once more;2 and perhaps I shall one of these days (tho' horribly sick and lonely, and beset with spectral lions, go whitherward I may): but whether I do or not, believe forever in my regard.3 And so God bless you,—prays heartily

T. Carlyle