1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO WASHINGTON WILKS; 4 November 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18541104-TC-WAWI-01; CL 29: 186-187


Chelsea, 4 Novr, 1854—

Dear Sir,

I have received the little Volume you were kind enough to send me.1 You may assure yourself “Offence” is not the feeling suggested by what you have seen good to do, either in dedicating or in writing. I have gone thro' the little Book, strange memories crowding on me (as you may fancy), and almost in an apocalyptic mood. I find no complete or accurate Likeness of Edward Irving there, few specific details being given, and those few not always exact: but there is a recognizable Outline of a Likeness; the gallant valiant man, and his wild and tragical career, are taken up in a generous and loyal manner; and the impression left is much nearer the truth than in other Books or Criticisms I have seen. The many Excerpts you give,—strongly seasoned with pious wise meaning, all or most of them,—will do good to many readers; and tend to bring that question and other still more important ones, nearer their true issue. On the whole, you write in a manful honourable temper, and with a free-flowing ingenious pen; and have deserved thanks, from me at least, by what you have done.

I know not whether the Public would sufficiently acknowledge, at this time, a finished Biography of Irving; nor whether you could engage in the great trouble and study that would be necessary to it: but there do exist (I have little doubt) sufficient materials, if well inquired after; and you, it is pretty evident to me, might accomplish such a work far better than is common in such cases.2

Believe me / Yours very sincerely /

T. Carlyle

Washington Wilks Esqr