The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO EDWARD EVERETT ; 2 December 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18531202-TC-EE-01; CL 28: 330-331


Chelsea, London, 2 decr, 1853—

My dear Sir,

The Bearer of this Letter and Parcel is Mr S. Lawrence an eminent Painter of ours, who is going on a tour to America, for several objects, one of which is, to exercise his Art as occasion may offer. If you can conveniently in any way farther him, I will ask you to do it with a testimony that it is a safe investment of beneficence, and a favour done to me and others of your friends here. I have repeatedly sat to Mr Lawrence (as have other friends of yours with success); and have long known him as a most amiable ingenuous intelligent and worthy man. He is not our most popular Portrait Painter; but many think he ought to be so, or at least, that he has in him the talent for being our best, which may be a slightly different matter. To my own knowledge, he succeeds admirably in faces that have meaning in them,—interprets it with really a rare discernment;—and in fact is already our Chief Artist in that highest tho' not most lucrative department. We hope he may find in the U.S. many faces that would suit him well: many there must be that come under the definition of suitable for him, and some of them he should not fail to find! On the whole, if you can help him, I will again say it is safe to do so.

Mr Lawrence carries for me a little Packet to your Address; a strange old brown ms., which never thought of travelling out of its native parish,—but which now, so curious are the vicissitudes and growths of things, finds its real home on your side of the Atlantic, and in your hands first of all. The poor Ms. is an old Tithes-Book, of the Parish of Ecton in Northamptonshire, from about 1640 to almost 1700; contains, I perceive, various scattered faint indications of the Civil-War time which are not quite without interest: but the thing which should raise it above all Tithes Books yet heard of is—that it contains actual Notices, in that fashion, of the Ancestors of Benjamin Franklin, Blacksmiths in that Parish! Here they are, their forge-hammers yet going; renting so many “yardlands” of Northamptonshire Church-soil, keeping so many sheep &c &c—little conscious that one of the Demigods was about to proceed out of them. I flatter myself these old plaster-cast representatives of the very form and pressure of the primeval (or at least prior-eval) Franklins will be interesting in America;—there is the very stamp (as it were) of their black knuckles, of their hobnailed shoes, strangely preserved to us in hardened clay, and now indestructible if we take any care of it!

In the interior of the Parcel are the necessary farther indications of its history: I am very happy now to give up this Ms. to your piety,—such being the best dictate of my own piety upon the subject. To your wise keeping and wise disposal I now surrender it; and it is you that have it on your conscience henceforth, not I.1

A long time ago I talked of picking up an old Copy of John Cotton's extinct Theologicals for you;2 but mentioned, I think, that it had suddenly gone into other hands when I applied: it has never turned up again, nor perhaps ever will; but if it do, I will certainly have another dart at it.

I wish there were any chance of your coming back to England on a visit or otherwise! At any rate, do not forget old friends there who still well remember you.

With many apologies, and many kind regards, I remain always

Very Sincerely Yours /

T. Carlyle

To / The Hon. E. Everett / &c &c