October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO LEIGH HUNT; 28 February 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330228-TC-JHLH-01; CL 6:336-339.


18. Carlton Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, / 28th Feby, 1833—

My Dear Sir,

Last night, after tea, a Bookseller's Porter came in, with two Parcels; in one of which we found your two Books and your Letter;1 both of which kind presents awakened the gratefullest feelings here. As for your Letter, written with such trustfulness, such patient, affectionate Hope, Faith and Charity, I must report truly that it filled the heart,—in one of our cases even to overflowing by the eyes. We will not dwell on this side of it. Let me rejoice rather that I do see, on such terms, such a Volume as yours. The free outpouring of one of the most purely musical natures now extant in our Earth; that can still be musical, melodious even in these harsh-jarring days; and out of all Discords and Distresses, extract Harmony and a mild Hope and Joy: this is what I call Poetical, if the word have any meaning. Most of these Pieces are known to me of old; you may be sure, in their collected shape, I shall carefully prize them, and reperuse them, for their own sake and yours.

It was not till I had read your Letter a second or even third time, that I found the date of it to be the 2nd2 of December! Where, whether at Moxon's, or at Longman's the Parcel may have laind [sic] hid these three months can only be conjectured: I had determined in any case to write by return of Post; and now, on that vexatious discovery, had almost snatched my pen, to write before I went to sleep; as if that could have got you word a little sooner. It is very provoking; and to me at the moment doubly so, for a cheerful illusion was dispelled by it.

Alas, then, it is too likely that sorrowful Paragraph we read in the Newspapers was true; and the modest hopes your Letter was to impart to me were all misgone before its arrival!3 Would I could help you. Tell me at least without delay, how it stands; that we may know if not what to do, at least what to wish. Meanwhile I again preach to you: Hope!

“Man,” says a German Friend of mine whom I often quote, “is properly speaking founded upon Hope; this world where he lives is called the Place of Hope.”4

Time and Chance, it is written, happen unto all men.5 Your good children, now like frail young plants, your chief care and difficulty, will one day stand a strong hedge around you, when the Father's hand is grown weary, and can no longer toil. Neither will the sympathy of kind hearts, so far as that can profit, ever fail you. Esperaunce!

I too am poor, am sick; and, in these wondrous chaotic times, dispirited; for moments, nigh bewildered. Let us study to hold fast and true even unto the death; and ever among the Sahara sands of this “wilderness journey,” to look up towards loadstars in the blue still Heavens! We were not made to be the sport of a Devil or Devil's Servants: my Belief is that a GOD made us, and mysteriously dwells in us.

However, let us now turn over to a more terrestrial leaf, and talk of this journey to Craigenputtoch, which we here cannot consent to abandon. It is not a piece of empty civility, it is a firm scientific conviction on my Wife's part and mine that you would both get and give true pleasure in our Nithsdale Hermitage. She says emphatically, I must press you to come. You shall have her Pony to ride; she will nourish you with milk new from the Galloway Cow; will &c &c. In sober prose, I am persuaded it would do us all good. You shall have the quietest of rooms the firmest of writing-desks: no soul looks near us more than if we were in Patmos: our day's work done, you and I will climb hills together, or saunter on everlasting moors, now cheerful with speech; at night the Dame will give us music; one day will be as peaceable and diligent as another. Why cannot you come? The way thither, and back again, is the simplest. You embark at your Tower Wharf in a Lieth [sic] Ship (Smack it is called); where under really handsome naval accommodation, sailing along shores which grow ever the finer, and from Flamborough Head onwards can be called beautiful, you land at Leith; say, after a voyage of four days; the whole charge Two pounds Sterling. An Omnibus takes you to the inn-door, whence that very night, if you like, a Coach starts for Dumfries; and seventy miles of quick driving brings you safe into my old Gig, which in two hours more lands you at Craigenputtoch house-door; and you enter safe and toto divisus orbe [cut off from the whole world]6 into the oasis of the Whinstone Wilderness. Or there is another shorter daylight way of getting at us from Edinburgh; which a Letter of mine could be lying here to describe and appoint for you. Will nothing be temptation enough? Nay, we are still to be here till the first week of April; could lodge you in this hired Floor of ours, show you Edinr, and take you home with us ourselves. You must really think of this; Mrs Hunt, for your sake, will consent to make no objection; your writing work, one might hope, would proceed not the slower but the faster. You see two Friends; innumerable stranger Fellow-men, and lay in a large stock of impressions that will be new, whatever else they be.

As for the projected Book-parcel, fear not to overburthen me with Books:7 at home, I am quite ravenous for these. Fraser (Magazine Fraser) the Bookseller of Regent Street will take charge of anything for me, and have it forwarded; at the utmost, for five-pence per pound. Or perhaps your better way (if the Colburns are punctual people) were to direct any Parcel simply “to the Care of Messrs Bell & Bradfute, Edinburgh” (with whom they infallibly communicate every Magazine-day), by whom, also at the lowest rate, such as themselves pay, it will be carefully forwarded.

My Paper is nigh done; yet I have told you little or nothing of our news. The truth is happily there is almost none to tell. Mrs Carlyle is still sickly, yet better than when you saw her; and rather seems to enjoy herself here,—almost within sight of her birthplace. For me I read Books and scribble for better for worse. We left home some two months ago, once more to look at Men a little. The style of thought and practise here yields me but little edification; as indeed any extant style thereof does not yield one much. I too have some of your “old same-faced Friends”;8 and rummage much in the Libraries here, searching after more. A thing on Diderot of my writing will be out by and by in the F. Q. Review.

This sheet comes to you under cover to the Lord Advocate. If he call on you some day with a card of mine, you will give him welcome. He is a most kindly sparkling, even poetic man; with a natural drawing towards all that is good and generous. Fortune has made strange work with him; “not a Scottish Goldoni,9 but a Whig Politician, Edinr Reviewer and Lord Advocate”: the change, I doubt has not been a happy one. And now My dear Sir, good night from both of us, and peace and patient endeavour be with you and yours! We shall often think of you. Write soon, as I have charged you.——Ever faithfully,

T. Carlyle—