The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO JOHN DUNLOP ; 22 January 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410122-TC-JDU-01; CL 13: 22-23


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea / 22 jany 1841—

My dear Sir,

You must allow me to thank you very cordially for this little Book;1 which I have just read, with a pleasure rare to me in such cases. The Drama is of the wildest, spurning at Dramatic canons, Probability, or even if you will, Possibility; the Poem too is naked enough:—yet in both the one and the other, spite of every objection, there lies a singular fascination for me. The very verses I have read with true pleasure, true love; and if you knew the aversion, amounting almost to a kind of sacred horror which I usually feel against the soul-confusing insolent jingling emptiness of most modern “Poetry” (which in general I decline altogether to look at), you would understand how much this means in my case!

But there is a fascination, as I say;—a fascination of which I see the origin well enough. A genuine, simple, manful soul looks thro' these words. It is long since I have seen such a piece of right Scotchmanhood; a pure gleam of what yet survives of best among us; very beautiful;—like the right “silver-gleam,” that glances in the eye of the refiner; betokening that, amid all scums and drosses, there is genuine metal in the crucible!—

What can I wish you more; except that you would go on writing to our good people, as you find audience and occasion, in that same spirit, on all manner of subjects; not on Temperance alone,2 but on a thousand other things: Heaven knows they need greatly to be written to, and spoken to; and have, in these days, few or none to do it.— Something like ten Dramas, of the kind they call “legitimate Dramas,” “classical Dramas,” have been sent to me this year: yours, with all its faults, is, as it were the only one of them that did not deserve to be instantly flung into the fire. A word is a word; precious, and means a thing: but a babblement which means no-thing—?—

In great haste I scribble you this line of thanks, of rough-spoken hearty acknowledgement.

We have lost your address; I must, if better be not, address to your Bookseller. We hope to see you again at Chelsea before long.

With much esteem and goodwill, I remain always

Yours very truly /

T. Carlyle