The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO GEORGE DODDS ; 12 July 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520712-TC-GD-01; CL 27: 163-164


Chelsea, 12 july, 1852—


Unfortunately I have no time to give any but a cursory examination to your verses, much less than their ingenuity might promise to deserve; and I cannot therefore pretend to pronounce a vote upon your pursuits which is entitled to much consideration from you. But I am in the fixed habit, this long while back, of advising all young men of genius, whatever their qualifications, to eschew verse-writing, as at best a very poor and idle pursuit, and very unsuitable to [the?] times, great as the [“reputation?”] &c of it may be. Nay, writing, in any shape, except where it is plainly unavoidable [leads] to questionable line of operation for a man of earnest purposes [3 or 4 words illegible] world. This will surprise you, especially from me who am by trade a writer and nothing else; but I can truly assure you it is my deliberate conviction, and whatever new insight new experience gives me, tends continually this long while to confirm it. Surely if a man have any real harmony put into the soul of him by his Maker, it is much better that he act it out of him than speak it out of him! And if he absolutely must speak, all other courses being barred to him, let him at least honestly and plainly do so,—not attempting to torture himself into singing what he means, in these most unsinging times of ours!— Believe me

Your true wellwisher,

T. Carlyle