The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO MACVEY NAPIER ; 21 June 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410621-TC-MN-01; CL 13: 154


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London, 21 june, 1841—

My dear Sir,

For a good while past it has occasionally seemed to me as if I might do worse than, some time or other, write an Essay on that notable Phenomenon, consisting of George Sand, Abbé Lamennais &c with their writings; what Goethe well names the “Literature of Desperation.”1 I find enormous temporary mischief and even a radical perversion, falsity and delirium in it, yet withal the struggle towards an indispensable ulterior good. The taste for it, among Radical men, especially among Radical women, is spreading everywhere: perhaps a good word on it, in these circumstances, were worthy of uttering?—

For several reasons, especially at the present moment, your Review rather than another were the place for such a thing. I do not know, of late years, how you go on at all; but I think, if you gave me elbow-room, I might produce a useful and pleasant piece, not entirely discordant with your general tendencies. At all events, I will ask you to write me, as soon as possible, a word on this project. I hope very shortly to get away into my native region for some months: if, on closer practical inspection, the thing seemed feasible and suitable, I might take the necessary Books with me, and occupy some portion of my leisure with it there.— Before a week, I shall certainly not have left this place.

Believe me ever, / My dear Sir, / Very truly yours

T. Carlyle

Macvey Napier Esqr &c &c