candlestick

July 1847-March 1848


The Collected Letters, Volume 22


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TC TO THE SECRETARY OF THE DUMFRIES AND MAXWELLTOWN EDUCATION SOCIETY ; 31 December 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471231-TC-SDMES-01; CL 22: 192-193


TC TO THE SECRETARY OF THE DUMFRIES AND MAXWELLTOWN EDUCATION SOCIETY

Chelsea, December 31 1847

Dear Sir,—I readily contribute my mite to your Samaritan project, and wish it good speed with my whole heart. In your locality I believe it is much called for, as indeed in most other localities, in these miserable times.

Ragged schools are not known to me, except by public rumour, nor that scheme of visiting which you propose; but the very definition is a recommendation for such attempts, and awakens in every bystander the wish to see them everywhere faithfully tried. For it is very certain man can teach and guide another; men possessed of some knowledge and virtue can impart thereof to others possessing less or none. And if they never come in contact, in practical constant communication with one another, they cannot even have a chance to accomplish this, which is the summary of all social duties, everlastingly binding, whether it be done or not; and the greatest benefit, properly the one benefit, that man can do to man in our world.

Ragged schools, with a good effectual schoolmaster, who did not stand by his horn-books, and slates, and copy—books alone, but could frankly lay open a wise, hearty, healthy, human soul to ignorant, dirty, encumbered little human souls—such an arrangement I could fancy to be the most excellent of all devices for your object. And as to that of visiting, I well remember reading Dr. Chalmers' development of that scheme,1 as practised by him in Edinburgh, and feeling that it was full of really practical sense—that if there was any plan of getting the work done, this, beyond all others, was it. May you prosper well: attract whatever is modest, and willing, and effective, round you to co-operate; and see, if slowly, yet certainly, good fruit attend your husbandry. One other wish I will utter, that you may have virtue given you to follow that invaluable precept, ‘Let not thy right hand know what thy left hand doeth.’2 A precept very difficult to follow in your peculiar circumstances, but one which all men, in all circumstances, can in some manner follow, and which no man departs from without fatal damage to his enterprise, as many low-spouting ‘Mechanics' Institutes,’ Bible Societies even, and Exeter-hall ‘labours of love,’ may, in their present ruinous state, after such assiduous beating the drum, well testify to us.— Believe me, dear Sir, yours very sincerely, T. CARLYLE.