The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO THOMAS STORY SPEDDING ; 9 November 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401109-TC-TSS-01; CL 12: 317-318


[9 November 1840]

Carlyle, by way of “brief portable commentary” on Sewell and the Quarterly Review, deposes:

1. That he the said Carlyle is not, and never was, in use to make much of Pantheism or indeed of any other theism or ism now or lately current in the world; that he is willing to let all men be Pantheists or Pottheists according to their convenience, and claims a like liberty for himself. That he infinitely prefers SILENCE on that highest matter to any Speech, or other utterance by Liturgy, Ceremony, Painting, Poetry, Surplice, Pitchpipe, or Hand-organ, that he has met with in these latter ages, or hopes to meet with for an age or two. That he says sometimes, with Faust in Goethe, “Who dares name HIM?”—and yet struggles to pardon the very Calmucks, who pray by means of a “rotatory calabash.”1

2. That he feels a pleasant surprise at finding himself taken up under the category of Puseyism or Antipuseyism, little more pertinent than that of Teetotalism or Antiteetotalism; and could not forbear thanking Heaven and Oxford, as for an unexpected mercy, and kindness bestowed altogether to boot, that he had founded a new religion, as it were, in his sleep.

3. That participating in Father Sewell's earnest feelings about many things, the said Carlyle regards Sewell, morally considered, as a man of worth; and Puseyism as a thing of worth,—cheering as a symptom, likely to do much good as an agent,—tho' whether in revivifying the Church of England or in more swiftly exploding it, deponent saith not, and indeed hardly cares.

4. That Carlyle regards the said Sewell and Puseyism, intellectually or practically considered, as a chimera (or even, according to Detrosier the Manchester Lecturer,2 as “a chimera”), literally, as it were, the shadow of a shade,—shadow, namely, of the right reverend Father Archbishop Laud, who, little more than a cobweb even while living, had the head cut off him nearly two hundred years ago,3 and is not appointed to appear in England a second time at this day, or at any day, short perhaps of the Last.

5. That the said Carlyle's pen is very bad, and his time short. That he persists and is like to persist in hearty goodwill towards Thomas Spedding; and wishes often he lived, like him, among the everlasting hills, far from all jargon and chaff; and even proposes to do it some day. And farther the deponent saith not.

Given in our Tub at Chelsea,
this 9th day of Novr, 1840 years.4