October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO BEN NELSON; 26 November 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18331126-TC-BN-01; CL 7:46-47.


Craigenputtoch, 26th Novr 1833—

My Dear Sir,

Here is your Picture of Paris,1 which has lain many weeks ready for returning. Unfortunately, as it came up hither from Scotsbrig, its neighbourhood had not been of the best; some edible, adipose material; bacon-ham, or such like;—whereby, tho' wellwrapped, it had got an ugly stain, on one of the Volumes; as you will still see, and rue. No art of ours here would bring out that foul spot; so what can I do but leave it standing, a monument of my ill-fortune, and of your forgivenness[.]

The Book did me some good, and no evil. It is of the Useful-Knowledge kind; such as that Society usually gets together,—one might almost fancy, by a sort of steam machinery. I believe in fact the main writer of them is a poor hungry Scotchman from St Andrews; set there to write (at the rate of £50 a-volume) “in spite of nature and his stars.”2 Which amounts to much the same thing.

On Wednesday gone a week I called for you; having run down half-truanting to Annan. Mary could only tell me you were at Dumfries; and Mr Edward3 gone to London, “to some situation,” I strove vainly to learn what. Will you be kind enough to let me, as a party interested, know? Write me a long Letter: you have a Parcel to send at any rate.

That Volume of Goethe is what I mean. It is not mine but my Dame's; and she has set her heart on having it and the other three bound.4 Rule or Aitchison will bring it up any Wednesday; and if you direct it, “Care of Mr Aitken,5 Painter, English Street—to be left early,” I shall get it that same day. Perhaps indeed some of my Brothers have already called for it; in which case there is nothing for you to do—but write me a Letter by Post.

I am ashamed to speak of your coming in person now, tho' perhaps at this dead se[as]on it were as practicable as ever. No Figure could darken our door who were welcomer. Sitting in these long nights, over piled logs and pit-coal, in the middle of the frozen wilderness, what conferences we could have! It is really a pity you will not come. Nay why should you not get into the habit of coming?

Your Townsmen, I see with real satisfaction, have done themselves the honour to elect you first Councillor: I hear too that you had to decline the Provostship. That is right; both things are as they should be.

If the Government would next march out the whole rural Quorum, Commissioners, Trustees, Custodes Rotulorum,6 bag and baggage, and bid them never while Time ran, return, it were another great benefit.

Now write to me soon (where Edward is), or what were far better come soon and tell me. My Wife sends her best regards; longs also to see you.

I remain always, / Affectionately, /

T. Carlyle—