October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO MACVEY NAPIER; 26 November 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18311126-TC-MN-01; CL 6:58.


4. Ampton Street, Mecklenburg Square, / 26th November 1831—

My Dear Sir,

I am busy with an Article intended for you, which I have entitled CHARACTERISTICS: it hooks itself to Hope's Book and Schlegel's,1 but has nothing essential do with either; Hope's could not be reviewed except with peals of laughter mingled with groans, and he is now in his grave; Schlegel's I left at Craigenputtoch, and cannot find a copy of here: so the Titles and some distant allusion are all I meddle with.

There are but six pages perfectly ready, the rest vague enough in my head; I am in the aphoristic style, and need an incessant watchfulness to keep from being abstruse. Tho' I think, from twenty to twenty-five pages will hold what is to be said, I dare not confidently promise the Piece till about this day three weeks: then however you may calculate on it,—if you will leave me room. I do what in me lies; but am much interrupted here; all out of sorts; my harness quite strange to me, therefore my waygate [tail-race of a mill, i.e. progress] smaller. Nevertheless, I hope the thing may prove useful; above all, true, and then it cannot fail to be useful.

Mr Rees sent me a hint from you the other day; to which I returned what answer I had. It seems safer to inform yourself more distinctly how the matter stands. In three weeks, then: sooner possibly, but not certainly.

All manner of perplexities have occurred in the publishing of my poor Book;2 which perplexities I could only cut asunder, not unloose: so the Ms like an unhappy Ghost still lingers on the wrong side of Styx; the Charon of Albemarle Street3 durst not risk it in his sutilis cymba [stitched-together boat];4 so it leaped ashore again. Better days are coming, and new trials will end more happily.

In great haste, I remain as ever / My Dear Sir, / Faithfully Your's /

T. Carlyle.