The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JOHN FORSTER ; 16 May 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400516-TC-JF-01; CL 12: 144-146


Chelsea, 16 May 1840—

Dear Forster,

Your Report,1 come of it what may, is decidedly excellent. It not only far surpasses Fraser's which is here; but I may say I do not recollect to have ever seen the real cream of such a business more adroitly laid hold of, and presented,—the thin surplusage all left behind. A few altogether trifling mistakes weeded out (most of which I have marked), the thing might be printed anywhere. It is in fact a right readable report of what, in common hands, becomes a vague rhapsody neither readable nor intelligible.

If you ask me my own separate wish in the matter, I should say first of all: That such a benignant process were performed for all these Harangues;—and then that I had the whole here in my drawer, if I knew how to reward you for it! This were my wish and interest in regard to it, this and no other; but I have no right to make such a demand of you.

I may say farther that I do mean to develope this subject, and publish it abroad to a greater extent in some way or other,—by writing a Book on it; by lecturing farther on it; or indeed by what way I have not yet at all determined. An editor of some Paper or another, an innocent Irish Catholic Lawyer,2 stumbled in upon me one night; and obtained a kind of promise that I would ignore his reporting of the First Lecture, at least till I saw what it turned out to be: but after the First Lecture (which he said would come out today—in the Tablet or some such thing),3 I have determined to stop him: indeed I believe I was wrong to give him any permission at all, since I already thought of publishing the thing myself in some shape or other.

Under these circumstances what can I ask you to do? A short abstract of the First Lecture in the Chronicle,4 as it is likely to be reported and misreported already in that Tablet or whatever they call it, could do no harm; but also it could not be of much service to anybody: and about all the rest of the Lectures there must be silence till we have determined what is to be done with them. I can see no farther into it as yet.

Follow your own light therefore in regard to this first lecture; publish no report of the rest. I cannot ask you to make reports and write them on these terms: but I have already said how well I should like to have such, or even to know them in existence. I wish I could ask you; but I cannot and do not.

Some general description of the whole phenomenon of these Lectures and outline of the purport of them, given as an Article after they were over, would not be objectionable, so far as I see: yet I never know of such things whether for myself they are good or evil in the long-run, and am in the fixed habit of leaving them altogether to themselves. What can a man do with them? Begging is bad any way; but begging a man to criticize you,—is it not begging him, if he be a true man, to tell you that he thinks you a windbag and an impertinent fellow?

In great haste, / Yours very truly

T. Carlyle

John Forster Esq