October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO JOHN STUART MILL; 20 January 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340120-TC-JSM-01; CL 7:69-74.


Craigenputtoch, 20th Jany, 1834—

My Dear Mill,

Your first Letter did, as you conjecture, lie six days at Dumfries: I found it there, as I had gone down to meet my Mother, and bring her up hither on a visit to us; there was another Letter from Rome too; so that all good things came at once. You should have had an answer sooner, had you not half-predicted that you would write again “within a week.” It so chanced that I was at Dumfries a second time last Saturday, and there found another belated Letter; and so now on Monday night, close-shrouded from these howling winds and rains I proceed to clear accounts with you.

The Book-parcel (I cannot yet speak in the plural number) had, in the mean while, arrived; the Morellet one1 I mean: that of the Collier,2 Fraser tells me, is still in his hands; and he knows not well when it will come. He has altered his method of conveyance to Edinburgh, it seems, and now sends his Magazines by the Mail; and so, for any foreign package, must wait a conveyance by sea, such being not regular but casual. What next are we to do? I suppose Bookbales go off to Edinburgh almost weekly by sea; but I can bethink me of none at this moment that are open to me. The shortest way I fancy in this and all similar cases will be to have the Parcel sent to Simpkins and Marshall, addressed “Care of Mr M'Kie Bookseller, Dumfries”: it will reach me sooner (about the end of every month), and cost only 5d per Pound, which rate is still an easy one. Will you therefore tell Fraser to take this method with it, if he have not an early prospect otherwise; and also that his Edinburgh Agents have now faithfully sent me all the rest that was due. I am ashamed to trouble you so often on such matters: but what can I do? The Necklace Collection3 is the very Book I inquired after over all Edinburgh, but with the most imperfect result; and cannot fail to interest me. Montgaillard (not Gaillard?) I have never seen or heard of: Bauchamont [sic] was not to be got trace of in any Edinburgh Library, keenly as I searched for it.4 Have you ever seen it? Have I any chance to see it? Tell me at least where it begins and where it ends. Some Extracts from it that have come in my way are most lively gossip.— Another thing I wish you could investigate for me, some time; yet not till I request you more specially: the manner of Countess de Lamotte's death. At the end of her Second Memoirs (the English Translation in two volumes)5 it is said she fell from the leads of a house, in such and such a street; flying from some Bailiff: in all the French and other foreign accounts, it is said she was thrown out of a window in the course of a nocturnal carouse. The Coroner's Inquest that must have been held on her were doubtless still accessible (for day and date are given), and would throw light on several things. In the British Museum, you shall look for it some time, if I fail elsewhere: but not till I tell you.

Your news of the projected Periodical6 are of true interest for me: I only regret that I stand at such a distance, and can so inadequately understand what is purposed in the Enterprise; with what means; under what prognostics. It were so pleasant for me, so profitable, could I, seeing clearly what I did, unite myself with a set of men whom I believe to have the faithfullest intentions, and take a far heartier share in their work than (as you know) writing for it now and then means with me. Alas, we are fallen into wondrous times in that respect! To enter some Dog's-meat Bazaar; muffled up; perhaps holding your nose, and say: “Here you, Master, able Editor or whatever your name is, will you buy this mess of mine (at so much per pound), and sell it among your Dog's-meat?”—and then having dealt with the able Editor, hurry out again, and wish that it could be kept secret from all men: this is the nature of my connexion with Periodicals; to this does the strange condition of the Book-trade, and my own unpropitious star at this time drive me: perhaps it will not be forever; but even if forever I must be patient with it, and not act foolishly under it.

Already, as I meditate the matter, arises a considerable series of subjects which might be treated in that Work of yours better than elsewhere. Two, in particular, that have lain in me for years; both of which might be handled with some effect, and made instructive even to the Radical world: I mean an Essay on Authors, and another Essay on John Knox. The first of these, which I was thinking to write at any rate, I will cheerfully (on faith of you, for that is all I yet know of the Project) write for the new Work. The second is not so ready in me; but can also be made ready. My farther contributions must depend on the treatment I experience, on the course matters take; and I need not assure you, the closer my connexion can grow the better pleased shall I be.

For the present, I can see but a little way. Have you not for instance a Radical Review already, the Westminster; and Radical Magazines, Tait's, the Repository and so forth? What, at bottom, is the meaning of a new Work of the same sort; what newness is there to be in the doctrines of it? Or is it mainly certain new men that find themselves more or less foreign in these Publications, and would rather be at home in one of their own? Tell me, in any case, how the project shapes itself into fulfilment; and when the First Number may be looked for, which perhaps will be the best answer of all. I approve greatly of your purpose to discard Cant and Falsehood of all kinds: yet there is a kind of Fiction, which is not Falsehood, and has more effect in addressing men than many a Radical is aware of. This has struck me much of late years in considering Blackwood and Fraser: both these are furnished as it were with a kind of theatrical costume, with orchestra and stage-lights, and thereby alone have a wonderful advantage; perhaps almost their only advantage. For nothing was ever truer than this: Ubi homines sunt modi sunt [Where there are men there are manners];7 a maxim which grows with me in significance the longer I meditate it; modifying innumerable things in my Philosophy. The Radicals, as you may observe, appear universally naked (except so far as decency goes); and really have a most prosaic aspect. Barren, barren, as the Sahara sand is that Speculation of theirs (as for example, in Tait); almost more afflicting, only that it is not poisonous, than the putrid fermenting mud of Fraser!— The grand secret, I fancy, is that the Radicals as yet have almost no genius (tho' now not absolutely none); and so with prosaic sense and a vehement belief must do the best they can.

The sheet must not be all filled with facts; otherwise there were much more to say. I wrote to Tait about Fonblanque's business;8 enjoining Silence, if nothing else could be looked for: it was all I could do; and if Tait, “the centre of Edinburgh Radicalism,” was not written to before, might be of some small effect. He was to communicate with you, in case of any success. I am not to hear from him till a week hence, when some of your Books are to be sent him, on their return to you, and then acknowledged by him. And so enough of facts tonight.

Your second Letter9 flatters me, and does more: I feel you much closer to me after it. Truly my dear Mill, you are a most punctual, clear, authentic man. At several of your revelations, and computings whether you would stand lower with me or higher (but you rather thought lower), a smile came over me, in which lay a greater kindness than it were good to put in words. No, my Friend, you do not stand lower with me; and I rather think you would stand higher still, were the whole known. As it is, I can say, the Creed you write down is singularly like my own in most points,—with this single difference that you are yet consciously nothing of a Mystic; your very Mysticism (for there is enough of it in you) you have to translate into Logic before you give it place. Patience! Patience! Time will do wonders for us; Time which as the Germans say, brings roses10—if there be a stem. Meanwhile I earnestly commend your silence on that highest Discrepancy of ours;11 for I do not think it is to be a perennial one. Nay if I were to think only in the dialect of Argument (as I see is yet mostly your habit) what other could I say than you? Wer darf Ihn NENNEN [Who dares NAME Him]? “The Highest is not to be spoken of in words.” All that of Natural Theology, and a Demiourgos sitting outside the world, and exhibiting “marks of design” is as deplorable to me as it is to you. Immortality also till of late years I never could so much as see the possibility of;12 till now in some sense the certainty and philosophic necessity of it became manifest. And so I live in a kind of Christian Islam (which signifies “submission to God”), and say at all turns of Fortune, “God is great” and also “God is good,”and know not aught else that I could say. For you also, if you seek it aright, doubt not this great blessing is in store. “Walk humbly in well-doing”;13 there is no other road for one. It is long years since I first saw the meaning of Humility (of Self-killing, of Entsagen, as the Germans call it), and it came on me like water on one dying of thirst, and I felt it and still feel it to be the beginning of moral life. Unhappy that I am! Could I keep that always in my eye, I too had “overcome the world.”14 Courage then, and let us hope all things of ourselves and of each other! And so Good night my dear Mill: write soon, very soon, again: you are about the reasonablest man I speak with at present. My wife expressly “sends you her love.” Good night!

T. Carlyle

Poor Cavaignac! there is a kind of gloomy Satanic strength in him; but he is possessed with “revolution”; the curse of Ezechiel has fallen upon him: he is “made like unto a wheel.”15 Absolutely a kind of frightful man: one feels that his notion of the Christian Superstition and of all the “airs from Heaven” that breathe in it, and indeed of all things related to it, is false as insanity, yet fixed as adamant; that it will fare with him, as the Author of it did with Herod's men of war, who mocked him and spit on him!— But I will read that Preface again; for truly it is a sign of the times.

Beaumarchais is a lean, tough man, of wonderful adroitness: his Plays disappointed me the wrong way; his Mémoires the right way. Pity that there is no Life of him: a remarkable man. I have also read Morellet: a limited Whig kind of person, with a small Socratic vein; what we in Scotland call an eminently “canny” man. His Memoirs are worth reading; but are among the less worthy of it.

You did me the truest favour by that radical critique on me; for which I heartily thank you. If now or at any other time you have more of the sort to say I beg you earnestly, say it! / T.C.

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