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BACK AT CRAIGENPUTTOCH.-EDINBURGH.-FINAL REMOVAL TO LONDON.
IN the early days of April 1832 Carlyle and his wife were back at their Craigenputtoch home, after a journey broken several times on the road. They had left London in the last days of the previous March, in which month had appeared in Fraser Carlyle's paper on “Schiller, Goethe, and Madame de Stael,” and his description of “Goethe's Portrait.” These were followed by the essay on “Biography” and on “Boswell's Life of Johnson,” written during the sojourn at Ampton Street, in the April and May numbers of the same Magazine. Shortly after his father's death, and some weeks before finally leaving London, Carlyle had written as follows to Mr. Macvey Napier:—
“London, February 6th, 1832. “MY DEAR SIR,
“Unexpected occurrences force me to give up the hope of returning by way of your city. I must hasten home, direct *.*.*.* into Annandale, and make a visit to Edinburgh afterwards. The hand of Death has been busy in my circle, as I learn that it has been in yours; painfully reminding us that “here we have no continuing city.’ The venerated Friend that bade me farewell, cannot welcome me when I come back. I have
now no Father in this land of shadows. “I write at present mainly to ask you about some poetical pieces, entitled Corn Law I'llymes, and whether a short notice of them would be acceptable for your next number. The author appears to be a middle-aged me#." chanic, at least poor man, of Sheffield or the neighbourhood; a Radical, yet not without devoutness, passionate, affectionate, thoroughly in earnest. His Ithymes have more of sincerity and genuine natural fire than anything that has come in my way of late years: both on himself and his writings, and their social and moral purport, there were several things to be said. I would also willingly do the unknown man a kindness, or rather a piece of justice ; for he is, what so fow are, a man, and no clothes-horse. “I have given up the notion of hawking my little manuscript book" about any further: for a long time it has lain quiet in its drawer, waiting for a better day. The bookselling trade seems on the edge of dissolution ; the force of puffing can go no farthor, yet bankruptcy clainours at every door : sad fate 1 to serve the devil, and got no wages even from him 1 The poor Bookseller Guild, I often predict to myself, will cro long bo found unfit for the strange part it now plays in our European world; and give place to new and higher arrangements, of which the coming shadows are already becoming visible. More of this by another opportunity. “We have two Saint-Simonian missionaries here; full of earnest zoal; copious enough in half-true, and to me rather wearisome jargon. By-and-by you should have soule account of that matter: Southey's in the Quarterly was trivial, purblind, and on the whole, orroneous and worthless. I know a man here who could do it, perhaps much to your satisfaction. “Believe me always, “Faithfully yours, “THoMAs CARLYLE.”
The paper on “Corn-Law Rhymes" (of which more anon) was accepted, duly written, and published in the Edinburgh Review for July 1832.
Shortly after his return to Craigenputtoch Carlyle wrote again to his friendly editor in reference to some request or reminder of the latter respecting an essay on Byron, which seems unfortunately never to have been executed. Carlyle's treatment of that ever-fascinating subject, however jaundiced or one-sided, would certainly have been original and interesting:
“My DEAR SIR,
“If it can gratify any wish of yours, I shall very readily undertake that little piece on Byron : but it will be tacente Minervá, o: without inward call; nor indeed am I sure that you have fixed on the
right man for your object. “In my mind, Byron has been sinking at an accelerated rate, for the last ten years, and has now reached a very low level; I should say too low, were there not a Hibernicism involved in the expression. His
fame has been very great, but I see not how it is to endure; neither does that make him great. No genuine productive thought was ever revealed by: him to mankind; indeed, no clear undistorted vision into anything, or picture of anything; but all had a certain falsehood, a brawling, theatrical, insincere character. The man's moral nature, too, was bad ; his demeanour, as a man, was bad. What was he, in short, but a huge sulky dandy; of giant dimensions, to be sure, yet still a dandy; who sulked, as poor Mrs. Hunt expressed it, “like a schoolboy that had got a plain bun given him instead of a plum one'? His bun was nevertheless God's universe, with what tasks are there; and it had served better men than he. I love him not ; I owe him nothing; only pity, and forgiveness: he taught me nothing that I had not again to forget. “Of course, one could not wilfully propose to astonish or shock the general feeling of the world, least of all in a quiet Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. Indeed, I suppose nothing is wanted but a clear legible narrative, with some little summing-up, and outline of a character, such as a deliberate man may without disgrace in after times be found to have written down in the year 1882. Whether you dare venture to