The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO JOHN STERLING ; 5 October 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401005-TC-JOST-01; CL 12: 274


Chelsea, 5 October, 1840—

Dear Sterling,

It grieves me to pass with you, even for a moment, as a blabber of secrets. This secret, you may believe it, would have lain long unhinted at by me:1 but my Wife usually has leave to read such of my Letters as she likes, unless some express injunction to the contrary exist; and usually, I ought to add, her discretion is sufficient. Nay I find on this occasion she has not yet disclosed your secret, but only disclosed that she knows it,—and truly in so incidental and harmless a way as, I think, when once she has explained it, you will be forced to pronounce pardonable. For the rest, your good Mother's temporary vexation is what chiefly grieves me; she, kind soul, had no call to suffer in the matter: as for the rest of you, you are wrong and you are right, and will settle it as you can!—

Have you read my beautiful Sewell of the Quarterly Review? Did you, in the course of your historical inquiries, ever fall in with any phenomenon adequately comparable to Puseyism? The Church of England stood long upon her Tithes and her Decencies; but now she takes to shouting in the marketplace, “My Tithes are nothing, my Decencies are nothing; I am either miraculous-celestial or else nothing!” It is to me the fatallest symptom of speedy change she ever exhibited. What an alternative: men will soon see whether you are miraculous-celestial or not! Were a pair of breeches ever known to beget a son?

Believe me, my dear fellow, in spite of incidental loquacities,

Your true silent friend /

T. Carlyle