The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO LORD LYTTELTON ; 24 April 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520424-TC-LOL-01; CL 27: 93-94


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea 24 April, 1852—

Dear Lord Lyttelton,

I am much shocked at your news of poor Cochrane's case, of which I had heard nothing. Poor old man, I should be heartily grieved to lose him; and to his Office too, with all his faults, it may be a loss. True, he by no means shone as a distributor of books,—and could never bring himself to believe that the wish of everybody without restraint to anybody cannot by any skill be complied with;—but he was full of good nature, did much really useful work in a quiet lucid way, in spite of his indolence; and for practical help as a Bibliographer, he was far the first I ever met with in this country; and I believe we need not hope to find his match in that respect.

My name, I understand, is still on the Committee; but I have taken almost no share in any kind of Library business since those old days when you used to attend. Of course, if we lose poor Cochrane, it will behove us to use all possible care to get a fit successor. If I have anything to do with it (which seems doubtful), I can only engage to endeavour with all my industry to get the fittest attainable. Mr Gladstone's friend appears to be an interesting man;1 and his qualifications if he present evidence of them, will deserve to be well investigated, and candidly and even charitably estimated: but I should fear, on the first glance of the business, his being a Foreigner would prove a very heavy drawback,—heavy in appearance, and almost as heavy in reality, for the Keeper of an English Popular library. Panizzi, as I have been obliged to estimate him in painfully traversing his dim crypts and labyrinths, is by no means an instance of the preferability of Foreigners to natives even for such a post as his! As Librarian to a Prince, King, or Private Nobleman, Foreigner or Native, caeteris paribus [other things being equal], might be nearly indifferent; but, I imagine, only there.

I suppose you are out of Office at present, or at least one hopes you are?2 In that case, who knows but you pass Chelsea sometimes, in your rides or otherwise? If you ever called here, I should be right happy to have a little speech with you again. Some day or other a miracle of that kind may happen;—between 2½ p.m. and 3, it wd be a very slight violation of the natural law!—

I remain ever, / Dear Lord Lyttelton

Yours very sincerely /

T. Carlyle