candlestick

January-September 1845


The Collected Letters, Volume 19


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TC TO THOMAS COOPER ; 1 September 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450901-TC-TCO-01; CL 19: 185-186


TC TO THOMAS COOPER

Chelsea, September 1 1845

DEAR SIR,

I have received your poem;1 and will thank you for that kind gift, and for all the friendly sentiments you entertain towards me,—which, as from an evidently sincere man, whatever we may think of them otherwise, are surely valuable to a man.

I have looked into your Poem, and find indisputable traces of genius in it,—a dark Titanic energy struggling there, for which we hope there will be clearer daylight by-and-by! If I might presume to advise I think I would recommend you to try your next work in Prose, and as a thing turning altogether on Facts, not Fictions. Certainly the music that is very traceable here might serve to irradiate into harmony far profitable things than what are commonly called ‘Poems,’—for which, at any rate, the taste in these days seems to be irrevocably in abeyance. We have too horrible a Practical Chaos round us; out of which every man is called by the birth of him to make a bit of Cosmos: that seems to me the real Poem for a man,—especially at present. I always grudge to see any portion of a man's musical talent (which is the real intellect, the real vitality, or life of him) expended on making mere words rhyme. These things I say to all my Poetic friends,—for I am in real earnest about them: but get almost nobody to believe me hitherto. From you I shall get an excuse at any rate; the purpose of my so speaking being a friendly one towards you.

I will request you farther to accept this book of mine,2 and to appropriate what you can of it, ‘Life is a serious thing, ’as Schiller says,3 and as you yourself practically know! These are the words of a serious man about it; they will not altogether be without meaning for you.

Unfortunately, I am just in these hours getting out of town; and, not without real regret, must deny myself the satisfaction of seeing you at present.

Believe me to be, / With many good wishes, / Yours very truly,

T. CARLYLE.