October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO JOHN STUART MILL; 21 March 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330321-TC-JSM-01; CL 6:348-351.


4. Great King-Street, Edinburgh / 21st March, 1833—

My Dear Mill,

Will you accept this feeblest Apology for a Letter, and write to me again, till I have time to answer you more deliberately.

You do your nature great injustice,1 as I can well discern, who see some ten years farther into it than you. However, this also was among your endowments, that you should be unconscious of them, and even prove their existence by sorrowing for the want of them. For the rest, go on boldly, whithersoever you have Light to go. To all men, whom God has made, there is one thing possible: to speak and to act God's Truth, and bid the Devil's Falsehood, and whatsoever it can promise or threaten, an irrevocable farewell. For no man is there properly speaking any more possible. I rejoice very deeply to convince myself by clearer and clearer symptoms that you have chosen this “better part”;2 and so I prophecy nothing but good of you. But we will talk all those matters, far more at large, in August; which will be here by and by.

One other thing gives me pleasure, that your interest in Politics abates rather than increases. Your view of that matter corresponds perfectly with my own: a huge chaotic Deluge of floating lumber mud and noisome rubbish, in which is fixation or firm footing nowhere. “Cast thou thy seed-corn on the Nile waters; thou shalt find it after many days.”3 What thou doest is is [sic] of most uncertain moment; that thou do it truly is of quite infinite moment. So believe; so have all good men, from the beginning of the world, believed.

I am grown a little better, both in body and mind. These wretched east winds are still to be tolerated: but the business of assiduous scribbling comforts me; heartfelt writing would make me forget everything, only this is not always possible. I have written a long half-mad kind of story about the Archquack Cagliostro, which you will see some time in some Magazine or other. I feel half-tempted to burn it; nevertheless let it stand: it is all moderately true, tho' written about a grand Falsehood. One is rather sadly off with these Magazine-vehicles (Dog's-meat Carts, as I often call them): however, it is once for all our element in these days; let us work in it, while it is called to-day.4 The sheets of Diderot were all fairly corrected two weeks ago; you will see it in the next Number of Cochrane.5

Happy that you have found those Books, at least found some trace of finding them! It saves Napier from a heavy charge which Black the Bookseller here advised me to bring against him: namely, that they might be still lying in his own house! I will choose a surer re-conveyance next time. Certainly too you will at length find the Parcel in some crypt of the India House: it was a common brown-paper one, perhaps about a foot cubic; had your name written on it (too faintly it is like) yet probably as large as a Pen would write it. Fraser's Parcel will be here in two weeks: if W. Fraser's Book cannot be got readily, do not mind it.

I saw Buller's speech6 the night it arrived here: but could form little conjecture about its value or reception: I apprehend, his infirm state of lungs itself would prevent great success there. In any case, “bursts of parliamentary eloquence” are, in these days, among the absurdest of things. Pray tell me about Charles, if you ever see him; also about the elder people, whose probable losses I am sorry to hear of.7 It is a most kindly feeling that still connects me with that family.

Leigh Hunt says, I must “rebuke you” for not bringing that Note yourself: he has long had a desire to know you.8 So whenever you feel called that way, the road is open. The return also will be open; that is to say, Hunt is a most harmless man. I call him one of the ancient Mendicant Minstrels, strangely washed ashore into a century he should not have belonged to. For the rest, unless you feel called, it is not worth while to go: he has nothing to teach you, nothing to show you—except himself, should you think that worthy.

For poor Glen's sake I am sorry you have lost him. Nobody here has any connexion with Glen: in London, I can only bethink me that he used to visit at Basil Montague's 25. Bedford Square (you have seen Mrs Montague, and my name and your own were a sufficient pas[s]port there for inquiry); farther that he was a Member of the Literary Union;9 and, what perhaps is the best chance of all, entered Student in Lincoln's Inn. The Letter is of no manner of consequence: keep it for year and day; and then, if it be unclaimed, burn it.

Hayward somebody tells me has out his poor Translation of Faust:10 “the cleverest of our second-rate men,” I doubt, will but have made a bungle of that business. However, it is published at his own expense; of his own right-hand a man is master. — What think you of this other piece of gossip, currently believed here: That I was living in the closest sworn-league, last winter, with Fonblanque; and even (it was probable) a guest in his house for some months! Poor “suffering-remnant” of Conservatives! They knew me to be no Whig, and fondly trusted I might stand by altar and throne: alas, “the deepseated, silent, slow-burning, inextinguishable Radicalism fills us with a shuddering admiration.”11— We have two blustering Turkey-cocks lecturing here at present on the Negroes: one an Anti-Slaver; the other a Slaver that follows him Ibis-like to destroy his Crocodile-eggs. They fill the emptier head with vague horror and jarring.12 While we, under soft names, have not only Slavery but the fiercest Maroon War going on under our very noses, it seems to me Philanthropy and Eleutheromany might find work nearer home.13 But names do change things.

My Brother writes to me he has met Gustave d'Eichthal at Rome; rather out of spirits, and not fond of speaking about Saint-Simonism. He professes himself still “ready to reverence, but not knowing what to reverence.” The way with many! “Reverence Thyself: that is the highest reverence.”14

Our united regards to Mrs Austin: I think it is she who owes a letter now.— Und heirmit [sic] Gott befohlen [God be with you]! Ever affectionately,

T. Carlyle

[JWC's postscript:]

You will observe that we have changed our lodging. He has sent no compliments for me—but you know my true affection and respect is always yours—J W Carlyle

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