January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO CHARLES A. WARD ; 5 June 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590605-TC-CAW-01; CL 35: 103-104


Chelsea, 5 june, 1859—

Dear Sir,

There is a great deal of fire and talent in this little Book;1 much manly insight and emphatic declaration, which the vulgar of mankind are still strangers to: I vote that this is considerably more like the road for an earnest Literary man than any of the former courses I have seen you on;2 and that you try this farther, and with all the faculty and active and passive virtue you have, to see what it will yield, to you and to your neighbours of mankind!—You manifest the elements of a very considerable gift for writing as a man should write in the England that now is; but give me leave to say they are in good part only elemental as yet; and will require a long tough struggle, on your side, to bring them into the perfection they are worthy of. It is mainly a question of morality, as you will find by and by. If you can endure and endeavour, in a manful, modest and honest manner, victory does lie ahead, in my opinion!

You have recognized with noble indigna[tion] the brutal leprosy poor England has fallen into, and you do not, like the vulgar, reckon it florid health and increase of weight: this is excellent to start with; but in going on, you will find you have not yet got near the bottom of that horrible phenomenon (unless I mistake it); and that there are strange questions to settle, and sad and strenuous things to do, very many, before you can with your right strength grapple it, and deal with it. Your contempt of the Penny Newspapers is transcendant,3 as it ought to be: but I think you have not perhaps enough meditated, and above all practiced, what I call “the Silences” (about whh too I am profoundly serious);—and that, one day, perhaps, you will be astonished to find how much the Penny Newspapers (and their Penny Philosophies, indubitable to all the world just now) have still hold of you. Verb. Sap. [verbum sapienti satis est; a word to the wise is enough.]

It is not for want of business of my own that I interfere so far in yours, and write these things;—as, I doubt not, you perceive without my telling you. In very great haste (a too habitual state with me of late times)

I remain /

Yours sincerely

T. Carlyle