The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH; 17 May 1822; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18220517-TC-JBW-01; CL 2:108-109.


[ca. 17 May 1822]

… your hands. She herself wrote first on the genius of Rousseau.1 Will you try this? I am sure it would answer: I beg of you to give it some thought.— Have you entirely abandoned the idea of translating Don Karlos? That were a fair enterprize, and one in which success would be a noble thing. Coleridge is not more celebrated for any thing he has done than for his version of Wallenstein.2— Nay I have still another scheme which I have never yet told you of. Some considerable time ago, it came into my unfortunate head that I had one or two sparks of the poetic temperament in my composition; and I thought what a fine thing it would be to write in metre! Your stanzas on Napoleon suggested the notion to me, and I sat down in the spirit of generous rivalry to try and do the like. The result—that small piece of fustain [sic]—which might have shewn me how lamentably I was wrong, I now send to you. Do not criticize it—parca victis [spare the conquered]; but tell me what you think of the project which gave rise to it, and which the ill success of it has well nigh consigned to everlasting oblivion? You must know I meant that we two should engage to each other to produce, every fortnight, for mutual inspection, a given number of verses, upon subjects chosen by ourselves alternately; and thus I [concluded that if] there was any poetry within us it would be elicited at length; if not, we should but have made some indifferent couplets, upon paper of our own, & harmed no man whatever. Now tell me, would you take up the glove if I should throw it down still? I long for a reply.

Is it not very hard that you have broken your resolution about the General Assembly? One half hour's conversation would enable us to settle all those things better than a whole day's scribbling.— It is a year about this very hour since I saw you for the first time! How many years will it be before I can totally forget all that!—God bless you, and keep you forever!

I am always your friend, /

Thomas Carlyle—

I will not allow you another Novel this month. Chateaubriand is the last of the series: he is the finest genius & the greatest fool in France at present—see his Genie du Christianisme.3 Sismondi's Littérature du Midi4 is in waiting for you; but I wished to hear from you in answer to those projects of mine, as soon as possible.— Your mother will hear Chalmers if she come to Town. Is there no hope of you? Adieu!— (Excuse this scurvy paper; I have written twice as much as I intended)—