July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO W. B. DONNE ; 17 September 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550917-TC-WBD-01; CL 30: 68-69


Chelsea, 17 Septr, 1855—

My dear Sir,

Here, lying ready for Nash1 when he passes this way, are one or two of the numerous volumes which I (unwillingly sinful) hold from your establisht.

1. Gleim's Gedichte 1 vol.2

2. Coxe's Austria 1 vol (vol 2):3—I shall not need that again, having now bought the Book.

3. Coxe's Pelham 2 voll.4 (very much in want of binding;—that, if nobody else is reading it, would be useful beside me here till I procure a copy of my own)

4. Menckenii Scriptures5 &c vol. 2d:—which completes the List at present.

The Urstisius6 I have not; nor can I clearly remember ever to have had it here, tho' such too may have been the case; I can remember very well having looked a little at it in your Reading-room. Either way, I hope it will turn up to the quick eye of Mr Jones. A Canisius7 I once had, for some time; but that also is not here, and I conclude has been returned.

I blush to have still above 80 volumes, according to your account! How are Laws to be observed when Lawmakers (at least theoretic Lawmakers)8 break the Law to such extent? But it is a fact I need all those Books at present (and could be much accommodated by having a couple of hundreds more, could I conjure them out of their remote hidingplaces, as I cannot, hither ready to my hand); and another fact I understand, or struggle always to believe is that nobody else is very specially needing them (otherwise they are of course at once given up): so that I have sometimes thought, as it is absolutely not want of punctuality, nor want even of some virtual claim to indulgence in the circumstances, that there ought to be some special regulation made for cases like mine,—for example that it might be competent to present a Petition to the Committee stating &c &c upon which the Committee to absolve here and there a member from the rigour of the Law, who may be dealing in Books little or not at all read, and for whom one reading of a Book will by no means suffice. This I have often thought of; and if you would concoct such a regulation, I should be happy to introduce and support it with all my strength. For it is by no means pleasant to be in any matter beyond the verge of the written law, if one could contrive to be by any means within it!— Think of this regulation, whether it could not be feasible. I consider it the very life of the Library that you are struggling, gently but constantly, to bring it wholly under strict rule,—with that, and with a serious Committee (or even one or two serious and knowing members in it) to direct in choice of Books, I can predict a long flourishing and useful existence to the London Library and otherwise not a long or very useful existence;—and I am really sorry not to be literally legal myself. But perhaps we shall get out of this pass one day!— Meanwhile please send me, as often as you like, a correct List of the Books you claim, and I will investigate, acknowledge and at least have the items entered afresh. And so, Forward, and much speed to you! No need of any answer to this; I expect to be permanently home in about a week, and shall then see you often and one day get answer by word of mouth. Yours always truly

T. Carlyle