August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO JAMES BALLANTINE ; 31 December 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421231-TC-JBA-01; CL 15: 257-258


Chelsea, 31 decr, 1842—

My dear Sir,

The second or concluding Portion of your Gaberlunzie's Wallet,1 which you are kind enough to send me in a very friendly manner, has come safe to hand. Owing to some delay with my own Publishers here,2 it has been kept back, as I find, for three weeks or more; this is the cause why I did not thank you sooner, as I should and would have done.

I have not yet had time to give the work such an examination as I purpose; but in reading here and there, it is easy to discern a fine genial open sense; much vigour, simplicity of heart (which is the only true kind of vigour or robur [strength]); and already a light, graceful faculty of giving utterance to much of this; in short, a fine talent, which it is highly worth your while to cultivate more and more. I judge you to be still young:3 what can I recommend to you but to penetrate valiantly deeper and deeper into that Inner Shrine of Things which you are on the way towards; to spare no toil, to count no costs, but press ever forward, as for the one thing needful, always attaining, never having attained! Many a fine talent, in these unprofitable days, is squandered as furnace-ashes, which might, by faithful energy, have been smelted into an enduring ingot. The populace of readers is very foolish; it behoves the writer himself to be wiser. He had better take less and less counsel of them,—and of their reviewers, and puffers and calumniators, and idle clanjamphray [rabble] of babblers and editors and zany-prophets. He is their leader; and ought to ride them, as a man does long-eared quadrupeds, not whither they want to go, but whither he wishes, and judges it wiser to go; the quadrupeds themselves will be grateful to him at last,—that he has not ridden with them “over steep places” down into Seas of Tiberias,4 but far elsewhither!

In a word, I will commit you to your own Good Genius (which is whatsoever of Wisdom and Truth a man has in him); and bid you listen reverently to its smallest whisper, deaf mostly to other noises—

With thanks & true wishes,

T. Carlyle