April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO JAMES BALLANTINE ; 27 September 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440927-TC-JBA-01; CL 18: 221-222


Chelsea, 27 Septr, 1844

Dear Sir,

I applied to Mr Moxon about your Poem; he is the only Publisher dealing in Poetry whom I am acquainted with: here is his answer, which I regret to say is negative.1 What farther to do I know not; for I did my best with him, and I know no other likely. I am afraid you will find it difficult to meet with a Publisher here. Poetry of all kinds gets less and less acceptance in this time; and your Poem seems to be of a special sort, more adapted for Scotland than for the South. Indeed if I might give you counsel, it would be rather to beware of quitting the field where you have succeeded, and committing yourself to this new one, which is yet untried, and is not at best in great favour at present.2 Direct Prose seems to me a better vehicle for uttering one's meaning, so long as it can be uttered in Speech, or in Prose; and when it cannot any longer be spoken, but must and will be sung, why then you can sing it, in incidental verses, with good effect, as you have been used to do. But it is the quantity of beautiful and true things which a man has got in him that exactly determines the worth of his utterance, let it be in prose or in verse, by tongue, by pen or pencil, that he utters himself. Nay the best utterance of all, as I say often, is silence and “beautiful and true” working and living, if that be one's appointment.

With many wishes for your welfare and good guidance, which includes all welfare.

Yours always truly /

T. Carlyle