August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO WILLIAM JOHNSTONE ; 22 January 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580122-TC-WJO-01; CL 33: 169-170


Chelsea, 22 jany, 1858—

Dear Sir,

I have read your “bit of Annandale Produce,”—your prose part of it wholly, for the first time, and a good many of poor Johnstone's rhymed Pieces for the second;1—and have to give you thanks for a really interesting hour or two you have procured me.

I remember the good old Shoemaker very well; and had always been taught to esteem him as a man of honest piety, sense and worth, before I saw any of his writings. Our one little interview I recollect very well, too;2 and the figure of the old man is pleasant to me at this moment,—the Favish,3 or whoever it was that moved us on the occasion, has entirely vanished. I read Johnstone's Poems afterwards; which increased my kind feeling towards him. An excellent Brother-mortal was clearly evident there; struggling under manifold impediments, and making an honourable shift among them,—victorious intrinsically as few are.

You seem to me to have done a pious service in recording such a Life, such a scene of human things, mute otherwise; and to have done it with real merit, in a faithful, loving and genial manner.4 I can well fancy (in spite of the misprints)5 it may be very popular in its native neighbourhood and else-where. For in fact there is very considerable rugged stuff in it; and I have known many an ambitious volume that had not half as much to tell its readers when they summed up the account. “Corrie Water”6 country is actually pourtrayed there, and the Figure of one of its worthiest men:—and a portrait, an actual Likeness, were it done only with a burnt stick on the board of a pair of bellows,—how infinitely preferable to the finest burin work when it is a no-likeness of anything in Heaven or Earth!— I will send this Book to Scotsbrig, one of these days; and in the meanwhile I return you many thanks for such a mark of your remembrance, and for so pleasant a piece of service to poor old Annandale at large;—being always, with many good wishes, and encouragements to stay still where you are, and prosper,

Yours sincerely / T. Carlyle