Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XXIII
LEIGH HUNT'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY (1850)

AFTER reading Leigh Hunt's Autobiography, Carlyle wrote to him on 17.6.501:--

'DEAR HUNT,--

'I have just finished your Autobiography, which has been most pleasantly occupying all my leisure these three days; and you must permit me to thank you. . . . I call this an excellent good book, by far the best of the autobiographic kind I remember to have read in English; and except Boswell's Johnson, I do not know where we have such a picture drawn of a human life. A pious, ingenious, altogether human and worthy book; imaging, with graceful honesty and free felicity, many interesting objects and persons, and imaging throughout a gifted, gentle, patient and valiant human soul, as it buffets its way through the billows of the time, and will not drown, tho often in danger; cannot be drowned, but conquers and leaves a track of radiance behind it: that, I think, comes out more clearly to me than in any other of your books;--and that is the best of all results to realise in a book. In fact, this book has been like an exercise of devotion to me; I have not assisted at any sermon, liturgy or litany, this long while, that has had so religious an effect on me. Thanks in the name of all men. And believe along with me that this book will be welcome to other generations as well as to ours. And long may you live to write more books for us; and may the evening sun be softer on you (and on me) than the noon sometimes was!

'Adieu, dear Hunt. I have often thought of coming up to see you once more; and perhaps I shall one of these days (tho horribly sick and lonely, and beset with spectral lions, go whitherward I may): but whether I do or not, believe for ever in my regard. And so, God bless you, prays heartily, ' T. CARLYLE.'

Old Hunt came to see him soon, overflowing with gratitude, and talking to Mrs. Carlyle and him, broke into tears.

____________________
1
Life of Thomas Carlyle, by R. H. Shepherd, II, pp. 90-4.

-284-

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