August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO RICHARD MONCKTON MILNES ; 17 March 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440317-TC-RMM-01; CL 17: 311-312


Chelsea, 17 March, 1844—

Dear Milnes,

There came last night, presumably from Moxon, a second copy of the Palm Leaves;1 which also, by a kind of droit d'aubaine,2 may I not crave your leave to keep, having already in view a good use for it. I hope moreover you have sent a Copy to Emerson; whom, intrinsically and extrinsically, it will much gratify. The way to him is by one Green (or the Successor of Green) a Bookseller in Newgate Street.3

One of my copies I read thro', after tea; which feat, of itself, either after or before tea, is a very surprising one for any kind of Poetry with me, in these days! Truly I feel called upon to say that I like this volume better than any of your others, and indeed well; that I find a real voice of Song in it; breathings of genuine “mild wisdom” uttered musically, under the Palm Trees of the East, by a Western man. You recognise my friend Mahomet;4 and say and sing things credible and heart-affecting concerning him. Thanks for such a Book; in my own name and that of all.

And now recognising Mahomet, good Heavens why do we not set about emulating him! Life with us is not a Dilettantism any more than it was with him; we are born servants, bound to be ready with blood and life, to what he called “Allah”; we too, every soul of us!— One of the things I like in this Book is the visible increase of earnestness: may it go on increasing,—der heitre Ernst [the serene earnestness].

On the whole, if Young England5 would altogether fling its shovel-hat into the lumber-room, much more cast its purple stockings6 to the nettles; and honestly recognising what was dead, and leaving the dead to bury that, address itself frankly to the magnificent but as yet chaotic and appalling Future, in the spirit of the Past and Present; telling men at every turn that it knew and saw forever clearly the body of the Past to be dead (and even to be damnable if it pretended still to be alive, and go about in a galvanic State),—what achievements might not Young England perhaps manage for us! Whatsoever was noble and manful among us, in terrible want of a rallying-point at present, might rally there, and march.7 But alas, alas!—

Well; I wish you every felicity; and pray that the end of idol-worship (wood idols and logic idols) may be swift;—and with thanks for such graceful melodiously whispering Palm Leaves, and many other things,

Am ever / Yours /

T. Carlyle