The Collected Letters, Volume 11


TC TO AN UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT ; 16 October 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18391016-TC-UC-01; CL 11: 205


Chelsea, 16 October, 1839—

My dear Sir,

It never was a habit of mine, and has for a long time been becoming less and less so, to set down what insight I might arrive at in the shape of aphorisms or logical points of faith. I should like very ill to have a Credo to write. I should say it is already written there, as well as I could do it, in those various volumes of mine! It seems to me but a barren thing that of hammering one's Thirty-nine Articles into never such decisiveness of form: better to be a good Christian, and leave your Thirty-nine Articles very much to shift for themselves,—especially in times like ours. At all events, that is not a service one can least do for himself; kind friends may do it, for their own behoof, if they see good.

In reading my friend Sterling's thirteen aphorisms, accordingly, I felt that they were his not mine, that several of them were quite new to me, most of them more or less questionable on some side; that if another man were drawing out aphorisms for me, he might do it very differently, and be as near the mark for his share too.1

This is all I can say of Sterling's Aphorisms, or of his magnificent, magnanimous, enormously exaggerated “Article” generally; of which indeed, having read it only once (and in the jolting of an omnibus mainly, lumbering along from Cheapside hither!), I retain but an indistinct remembrance.

Believe me always / My dear Sir, / Yours very truly

T. Carlyle