April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO SAMUEL BAMFORD ; 4 September 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480904-TC-SBA-01; CL 23: 105-106


The Grange, Hampshire, 4 September, 1848

My dear sir,—Both the numbers of your new work, which you were so kind as send me, came safely to hand1—the last only a few days before our leaving Chelsea for this place, whither we have come to see some friends, and have a little fresh air while the summer still lasts. I have read the two pieces with great pleasure, in which Mrs. C. your old acquaintance also shares. We find the Narrative full of rough veracity, clear, wholesome description of what you meant it to describe, namely—of an authentic phasis of human life—in which accordingly all human creatures may take a real interest. Withal there is a certain breezy freshness in the delineation, as indeed in former delineations by the same hand—a rustic honesty, a healthy manful turn of mind is nowhere wanting, and that is a pleasant neighbour everywhere, and to all readers and all men. On the whole, if you continue this work in the way you have begun, I think there is every reason to expect a lasting favour for it and all manner of good fruit that you and your friends could have anticipated. There are only two precepts I will bid you once more always keep in mind—the first is to be brief, not to dwell on an object one instant after you have made it clear to the reader, and on the whole to be select in your objects taken for description, dwelling on each in proportion to its likelihood to interest, omitting many in which such likelihood is doubtful, and only bringing out the more important into prominence and detail. The second, which indeed is still more essential, but which I need not insist upon since I see you scrupulously observe it, is to be exact to the truth in all points; never to hope to mend a fact by polishing any corner of it off into fiction, or adding any ornament which it had not, but to give it us always as God gave it—that, I suppose, will turn out to be the best state it could be in! These two principles, I think, are the whole law of the matter; and in fact they are the epitome of what a sound, strong and healthy mind will, by nature, be led to achieve in such an enterprise; wherefore perhaps my best “precept” of all were to recommend Samuel Bamford to his own good genius (to his own honest good sense and healthy instincts) and bid him write or omit without misgivings whenever that had clearly spoken! And on the whole, persevere and prosper: that is the wish we form for you. We are here among high people, to whom the “Passages” and other writings of yours are known:2 last night I was commissioned by Lord Lansdowne to ask you to send him a copy of this new work,—or to bid Simpkin and Marshall send it, if that can be done;3 but in any way to be sure that he gets it soon. I think perhaps you had better send it direct yourself; if the two Nos. are stitched together they will go thro' the post-office for sixpence (six stamps stuck on them); the address is, The Lord Marquis of Lansdowne, Lansdowne House, London;—and you have only to write a little note (a separate post-office note) saying, with your address given, that the book is sent by my order, that you yourself both write and sell it, and that the price is so and so. Pray do not neglect this, however, but set about doing it straightway. If you write at any time to Chelsea, the letter finds me after one day's delay. My wife bids me remember her to you and Mrs. Bamford, whom she hopes to see again by and by; Blakely appears to be a place very bright in her recollections.4

With many good wishes, I remain, sincerely yours,

T. Carlyle.