August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO JOHN STERLING ; 11 November 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421111-TC-JOST-01; CL 15: 174-176


Chelsea, 11 Novr, 1842—

Dear Sterling,

It must be admitted your List too is none of the richest!1 Little appears above ground for this enterprise; but Faith, as usual, has the presentiment and preassurance of much lying under. To the blockhead all is barren, from Dan to Beersheba; it is Genius that carries a divining rod, and knows where the metals sleep!— In reality, we must have this matter farther investigated, the feasibilities of it ascertained a little; and a general council of war held on it.

For the present I have another little bit of investigation for you: read it on that snip of print, which I have clipt from the Newspaper there indicated. It is above six weeks since the paragraph first turned up, in an abridged shape, and struck us considerably in the Examiner; where “Caradon” was I did not know; and never till now, by great inquiries, could ascertain. It seemed to me I had not lately fallen in with a manfuller piece of heroism, of swift conclusive insight into what was fit to be done, and resolution to do it, than in this case of the poor self-immolating miner. “Behold, we all die, if I hang here: it is my turn to die, and his to live,—my turn, and I stand it!” This is manlike; no spooney or inferior creature could have done it.2 Unseen too; not on Drury-lane stage at all; no clapping of hands or immortal need of glory to be looked for. I call it very great and noble:—superior almost to Miss Martineau's pension;3 tho' the Mechanics Institutes have not yet met to celebrate it!

Well, what I want you to do, is to ask the Foxes, or any benevolent fit person, to ascertain first of all whether the thing is, in every point, exactly and undeniably true. As Liskeard and Caradon are in your quarter, this may prove accomplishable, by and by, without much difficulty.

What is then to be done, provided the thing be true,—if anything more is to be done,—our benevolent fit Friend may himself help to advise. I am greatly against all lion “prizes for virtue”;—poor Grace Darling, I partly surmise, has had her poor quiet life all broken up, her nerves shattered, her death itself not a little brought on, by that!4 At the same time, one feels as if such a man as this miner were fit for something better than breaking stones at the bottom of a damp pit. I know not what can be done with him. If any subscription or the like were thought good, I would gladly give my poor guinea among others. At all events, and if nothing whatever be done, I shall always know where a right brave man is living and labouring in this world along with me; and that of itself is worth something.

Good night, dear Sterling. The wet wind is moaning thro' all crevices of Nature in these parts: I am tired with the whole day's confinement, and proceed now to knit up the ravelled sleeve of innumerable paltry cares5 with one honest pipe of tobacco, my finale for the night Nightly, in that last pipe, I think of all friends, and go often enough to Falmouth,—and much farther, alas!

With many blessings /

T. Carlyle