The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO JOHN STUART MILL ; 21 March 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410321-TC-JSM-01; CL 13: 63-64


Chelsea, 21 March, 1841—

Dear Mill,

You are very good, first to think so many kind things about that little Book, and then to volunteer writing them to me.1 I may well value your approbation;—what man's more? It was mine at a time when I had very few other men's in the world. That will be always memorable to me.

Something like what you say did occasionally gleam forth upon me while I wrote down those things. But now that it all lies there, little is visible but triviality, contemptibility,—and the happy prospect of washing one's hands of it forever and a day. No Book of mine ever looked more insignificant to me: it was all as if I had been trying “to sing thro' the barrel of a quill”;2—a very ineffectual song!

You must not abandon your reprint. The words that a man speaks from his own clear insight and belief are not so plentiful among us at present as they should be! There is good always in such words, whatever they may otherwise be. They are the only words worth printing and reprinting! Go over those Essays again; you will find much in them which the world would be no worse for a second reading of.3

I do long to see your Book on Logic;4 to understand clearly what it is you mean by that. With me the act of believing gets ever more amazing, indescribable: but you also know that act; let us hear what you can say about it, what you will describe of it.

News come from Sterling that he is taken ill again; that he cannot get to Falmouth at present. For me, the Isle of Wight still hovers before me, at a distance of more than a week at shortest.5

Adieu, dear Mill. / Yours ever affectionately

T. Carlyle