January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO MACVEY NAPIER; 1 August 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310801-TC-MN-01; CL 5:310-311.


Dumfries, 1st August, 1831—

My Dear Sir,

I return you many thanks for your kind answer1 to my Letter. If you will be so good as inclose me that introductory Note to the Messrs Longman (to my Brother's address, 16. Caroline Street Bedford Square, London), under cover to the Lord Advocate (37. Jermyn Street), it will be in London shortly after my arrival there; for I do not set out till Thursday.2

Our little money concern can be settled quite conveniently by a Bill transmitted hither, or by a Bill drawn here on you; either of which will produce its effect in any of our Banks. I will attend to it on my return.

The last sentence of your Letter causes me some surprise and likewise some gratification. If I rightly interpret it in the sense of an expostulation, and little friendly reproach, there must be some game at cross-purposes going on between us, which perhaps a few words of plain speech might put an end to. I have no hesitation, for my own part, in stating what is simply a literal historical fact, that there is no Periodical now extant in Britain which I should so willingly write for, and publish all my Essayist Lucubrations in as the Edinburgh Review. If you really want me to preach in your Pulpit, therefore, you have only to say so.

On the other hand I am a person that, in all senses of the word, live by writing: and if one honest man seems to have no need of my produce, what can I do but travel on with it till I find another that does? Had I so much as faintly conjectured that the Essay on the Nibelungen Lied would have been acceptable to you, then to you first should it have been offered. The like I may say of another long Paper on a similar subject,3 which is now also disposed of far less to my mind. But you may remember I mentioned several subjects in my last Letter but one; for example, Boswell[']s Johnson, which work I had (and in that shape or another still have) something to say on; at all events which I requested a loan of to read. Not hearing from you in reply, what was I to fancy but that my way of thinking and my somewhat emphatic way of expressing it was judged questionable in a Review now almost demi-official; and that you took the politest method of signifying this to me without offence? To me it seemed, for what I could know, highly natural on your part, and you may believe me was taken in the friendliest spirit. And now if I was wrong, here is the ground open for a remedy! I have spoke[n] with the most perfect sincerity; and beg you to understand quite clearly that if I can publish my Thoughts (and I have nothing else worth publishing) in your Journal, so honourable in itself, so endeared to me by accidental causes, then am I readier to publish them there than anywhere else[.]

You must thank Sir W. Hamilton (to whom I ascribe it) for that highly valuable Paper on Oxford.4 It is a subject that cries aloud for rectification. The English Universities and indeed the British are a scandal to this century. The tone of that paper is exactly what it should be, quiet, but deep deliberate unalterable.

I write in very great haste, while I am in the neighbourhood of Post Offices;—and remain always, / My Dear Sir, / Faithfully Your's,

Thomas Carlyle—5