The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JOHN FORSTER; 20 October 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18511020-TC-JF-01; CL 26: 212-213


Chelsea, 20 Octr, 1851—

Dear Forster,

The Examiner came by course of nature; and the Criticism was read, doubt it not, with the due attentions and emotions:1—“all right, all right on that side!” I beg to assure you, a thousand times, if once will not suffice! You seem to me a good deal wrong as to the Elder Sterling, and somewhat as to the Younger (neither of which is a very damnable sin);2 and you are indisputably right in many more and less important points: and on the whole, what business have I to demand that you should be right in my eyes on any point whatever? The only thing to be demanded, and that not too stringently in the present singular epoch, is that you be well right in your own eyes; verily that is it; a critic may do one some good in that case,—and in any other case he will infallibly do us mischief (little as he may intend it), if he do anything at all! That is the real fact of the matter, my fixed creed for the last 30 years or more;—and there we will leave it for the present and for all coming cases.

The business is now, that I should get at some other Book (if I only could!),—and that you should shake aside that cold, and reappear here with the old lucency amid your old friends and businesses. An old friend's face (as Oliver said of a higher matter) “hath exceeding much refreshment in it!”3— We are here every night; and hope to see you before long.— — Adieu, dear Forster.

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle