January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO MACVEY NAPIER; 27 January 1830; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18300127-TC-MN-01; CL 5:63-64.


Craigenputtoch, Dumfries, 27th January, 1830—

My Dear Sir,

I now return you the three Books, with many thanks for the pleasure they have given me. Old Ascham is one of the freshest, truest spirits I have met with; a Scholar and Writer, yet a genuine Man. Farmer and Douce1 belong to a much more thick-blooded, hidebound species; yet they too seem sufficient persons in their way.

I have quitted that project of ‘English Literature,’ and taken into a new track, the ‘History of German Literature,’ where far less will be needed, or at all events expected of me. Herein, I am afraid, your fine Collection, so liberally opened to me, will be of little service; unless indeed you could send me some documents about Luther and the Reformation (Seckendorf,2 for instance); and any rational ‘History of Germany,’ such as may perhaps exist in French or Latin, but is not, I believe, to be found in English. Schmidt's, or Mascov's3 work in German, I fear you are not likely to have. Perhaps even Hone's Mysteries4 might be of some service to me; or any work that touches on the general Literature of the Middle Ages; for my first volume should have something of an antiquarian character. Barclay's Ship of Fools,5 the original Owlglass,6 Law's Jacob Böhm, 7 and all old Translations from the German would be highly useful.

Doubtless it is to your kindness that I am indebted for the last two Numbers of the Review, which have been punctually sent me. In case of any future book-parcels, or single books, would you be so good as direct your agents to leave them for me with Mr Aitken (Bell & Bradfute's, Bank-street); by whom ware of that kind is collected for my behoof, and forwarded hither, in quantities, at regular intervals.

Mr Jeffrey tells me, the new Number is to be out in a week or two. I liked the last very well; the Review of Channing seemed to me especially good. Sir W. Hamilton's Paper gave proof of much metaphysical reading and meditation:8 but I dare say your readers would complain of unintelligibility and so forth; indeed it is full of subtle schoolman logic, and on a subject difficult above all others to discuss for English minds. Sir William, if I mistake not, has studied the ‘State of Education in Germany’: I should like much to see an Essay from him on that subject, [with] proper practical proofs and exposition [on a] subject of great importance, and public interest, at this time for it must be owned the Germans are immeasurably ahead of us in that matter; and if we are ‘the worst-educated nation in Europe,’ they are much more unquestionably the best.

Believe me always, / My Dear Sir, / Most truly yours /

T. Carlyle