January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO ANNA D. B. MONTAGU; 13 November 1829; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18291113-TC-ADBM-01; CL 5:32-34.


Craigenputtoch, Dumfries, 13th Nov. 1829.

My Dear Madam,

After a long silence, or mere listening with indirect replies, I again address you, and on the humblest possible subject: a matter of business, relating entirely to myself. Why I trouble you in such a case, your helpfulness in past times, and constant readiness to do me service will sufficiently explain. At the end of your last letter there occurs a little incidental notice of some opening for a medical man in Warwick; coupled with an advice from Badams that it might be worth my Brother's attention. Now it so chances that to my brother, at this season, this announcement is of all others the most interesting. The worthy Doctor has crammed himself with all manner of Scottish, English and Continental Science in this department; and ever since his return, has been straining his eyes to discover some spot where he might turn it to some account for himself and others; manifesting in the meanwhile not a little impatience, that no such spot was to be found, but that Fate should enthrall free Physic, and condemn so bright a candle to burn altogether under a bushel.1 On our return from Edinburgh I transmitted him your tidings; on which he wrote instantly to Badams for further information; wrote also to me that he thought the outlook highly promising; and in fine, this night, has ridden up hither, some five and thirty miles (from Scotsbrig) to take counsel with me on the subject, and lament that Badams has given him no answer. My petition, therefore, is that you would have the goodness to help the honest Adventurer in this affair, and procure for him, by such ways as lie open to you, what light can be had in regard to the actual, practical aspect it presents. My own opinion is that a very little encouragement would bring the man to Warwick, for he is fond of England, and utterly wearied of idleness, as passiveness at his age may with little injustice be named. My devout prayer too has long been that he were settled somewhere, with any rational prospect: for he has a real solidity, both talent and character, as I judge, and wants nothing but Action to make him a very sufficient fellow. Do pray, therefore, help the embryo Hippocrates a little, if you can! He will wait here some eight days, in expectation of your writing, and perhaps also persuading Badams to write: nay at any time I can forward the news to him into Annandale, within a week of their arrival. Write what you know without apprehension of consequences: honest Jack risks little by any such adventure; having little save a clear head and a stout honest heart, which are not so easily lost and won. For my own share, I too am getting fond of Warwick: it is in the heart of Old England, whither I should then have a pretext for coming; nay it is within a day's journey of London, where, among other wondrous things, there is “a 25 Bedford Square.”

You are not to account this a Letter, but only a sort of commercial Message, a Man-of-Business Commission. “Do you know, Mr. —?” said John Wilson once, in my hearing, to a noted writer to the Signet, proud enough of his signet honours, “there is nothing in nature that I detest so much as a Man of Business.” He of the Signet had imagined himself high in the other's good graces, and now of a sudden saw himself quite stranded, and left alone on the beach.2

I am thinking to take the Correspondence with you out of my wife's hands, so languidly does she manage it; and of old times, it was altogether mine. I know not that I have yet found, or shall ever find any correspondent to replace you.

You will kindly remember me to Mr. Procter and his lady, in whose welfare I must always feel a friend's interest. This is not altogether “words,” and yet what more can I make it?

Assure Mr. Montagu, that his Book was the most delightful I have read for many days.3 Your hand also was often visible in it. Why does he not publish more such? I have got old Ascham,4 and read a little of him, when I have done work, every evening. Do you ever see Edward Irving? He stretched himself out here on the moors, under the free sky, for one day, beside me, and was the same honest soul as of old.——Badams will not write to me, I know, but some day I will see him and make him speak.

Believe me ever, my dear Madam, /

Your affectionate friend, /

Thomas Carlyle.