April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO SAMUEL BAMFORD; 9 January 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490109-TC-SBA-01; CL 23: 199-200


Chelsea, 9 January 1849

My dear sir,—Yesternight I read the preface and the last portion of your autobiography.1 I have followed the work throughout, as the successive instalments of it reached me by your kindness (for which I am much obliged): and now it is ended, handsomely, yet sooner than I quite expected. It seems to me you have managed the affair very well indeed; a manful rustic frankness runs thro' it; a wholesome freshness, energy, sincerity: it is very clear everywhere, very credible; and, to sum up many merits in one, it is singularly memorable, and stands out in distinct visibility and continuity in one's mind after reading it. You will give an innocent and profitable pleasure, I hope, to very many persons by what you have written; and made known, with advantage to all parties, important forms of human life, in quarters where they have not been known hitherto, and much required to be known.

On the whole, however, we must not yet let you off, or allow you to persuade yourself that you have done with us. A vast deal more of knowledge about Lancashire operatives, and their ways of living and thinking, their miseries and advantages, their virtues and sins, still lies in your experience; and you must endeavour, by all good methods, to get it winnowed, the chaff of it well separated from the wheat, and to let us have the latter, as your convenience will serve. To workers themselves you might have much to say, in the way of admonition, encouragement, instruction, reproof; and the captains of workers, the rich people, are very willing also to listen to you, and certain of them will believe heartily what ever true things you tell them; this is a combination of auditors which nobody but yourself has such hold of at present; and you must encourage yourself to do with all fidelity whatever you can in that peculiar and by no means unimportant position you occupy. “Brevity, sincerity,”—and in fact, all sorts of manful virtue,—will have once more, as they everywhere in this world do, avail[ed] you.

Since I wrote last, I have never seen Lord Lansdowne; know not what he did with those Nos. of your book, or, indeed, whether he has ever yet fairly got hold of them, for his life all this while has been in the country, I suppose, amid a crowd of guests, and with little leisure for considerate reading. Pray tell me how the matter is when you next write. I wish you farther to address a copy of your book so soon as you have got it bound to Lord Ashburton, whose address I enclose; if the book is under half a pound weight it will go by post if you stick sixpence worth of stamps upon it; above a pound and under two it goes for a shilling's worth. And the note you write must bear a cover quite apart. With many good wishes, yours,

T. Carlyle.