The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JOHN CHILDS; 13 January 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510113-TC-JCHI-01; CL 26: 16-17


Chelsea, 13 jany, 1851—

My dear Sir,

Thanks for your flying-leaf: one would say, this arrow you have shot, in the present temper of the world, must hit! I should think, if this emphatic Unfetter the Bible1 (accompanied with a clear statement, in three lines, of what the fetters of the Bible are, and what the difference in price of Bibles might be to the English population) were put into the hands (by Rowland Hill's Post, or otherwise) of ten thousand, or ten million, rational English creatures, and a brief Petition along with it, “knock off these fetters!”—there wd be few out of this 10,000, or 10 million, that wd not sign said Petition! It is absolutely a solecism of the first magnitude; and has not a leg to stand upon, now that the Scotch experiment has testified as to the danger of incorrect printing, and blown that to the winds.2 I myself, who do not pretend to worship the Bible, but do pretend to recognise it and believe it, and to try a little to do it; and who do not bother myself denouncing “Open Popery” in a country where all, from Dan to Beersheba,3 is virtual, conscious or unconscious, “Popery,” and damnable idolatry (if worship of sheepskins, rubrics, chancery wigs, and still worse things, be “idolatry”),—wd willingly subscribe my poor guinea for such a Petition or other movement as the above alluded to; and shd think the money right well laid out, if it helped to circulate the truest of Books among a People sunk in lies as no People ever was before!— But we must be patient. Patience, Patience!—

I like Prentice's Book very well:4—could nobody persuade you to do something similar, in brief compass, for your own sphere of observation? The “view of experience” is the only “voice” that ought to speak!——

We heard of you from E. Fitzgerald5 not long since. Do not forget to come and see us when in Town. And so a right good New-Year to you!—— In great haste,

T. Carlyle