The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO MR. THOM; 17 April 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500417-TC-MRT-01; CL 25: 65


Chelsea, 17 April, 1850—

Dear Sir,—You seem to me evidently a brave, sincere, clear-sighted man; but I grieve to perceive also that you are labouring under a sad delusion.

These Papers, as I turn them over, painfully shew me an earnest soul of a man passionately endeavouring to solve problems which transcend the human intellect,—and which every healthy human intellect, I think, will do well to keep clear of, and leave lying quiet. Alas, I cannot buy your Papers; to me they are not worth anything; and I fear even among Publishers, whose trade it is to buy such things, there will not any be found to whom they are worth money. Forgive me if I say again, the sight of a man like you, capable of so many manful things as your life already has given proof of, engaged in labyrinths of metaphysical theologies and teleologies, is positively distressing to me. I can have no doubt but that “sign” you talk of was solely the product of excited feelings and diseased or overwrought nerves:—and my clear and anxious advice to you would be, To sweep all that Mss. concern into the corner; to forget the Quakers and their “Peace” moonshine, and all that you have written or meant to write,—and to return resolutely and at once into some concrete practical pursuit again. Your old manful business of seaman for example? That is a trade where a man's thoughts, brought into hourly contact with the great facts of Nature, compose themselves into wise utterances, or wise silences and actions, which are better for a man than all the Books that can be written for him by himself or others. Fly to practice again, I advise you! Fly to Nature and her facts, and gather health there, as a sick child from the bosom of its mother!

Your Mss is left with the servant here, to be called for at your pleasure. I have spoken with all sincerity, the rather because I find much that is estimable in you, and heartily wish you well.

Yours sincerely /

T. Carlyle