The Collected Letters, Volume 25


JWC TO FRANCIS ESPINASSE ; 29 May 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500529-JWC-FE-01; CL 25: 85-86


Wednesday [ca. 29 May 1850].

DEAR MR. ESPINASSE,—What on earth has taken The Inspector, which we were hoping would go far in “the career open to talent”?1 Pray, when you have half an hour's leisure tell us the meaning of this sudden stop, and especially what you mean by “a sulky mob”—both Mr. C. and I being puzzled with the phrase.

For the rest there is no harm done—the clever honest head remaining on your shoulders all the same, to do work with some other instrument, if not with this one first tried. Bless your heart! think of Bruce's spider and of Mr. Blomfield Rush,2 and of hundreds of other historical characters who have made even more than seven trials before they got their thread to take hold. Think, above all, of Mr. Thomas Carlyle (my husband and author of various well-known works) who offered his Sartor to all the booksellers in London, one after another, and the best answer he got was from Fraser that he would print it on being payed a hundred pounds! My “young friend” you are young, you must remember (if tempted to fall back on misanthropy), and therein you have an immense advantage over some of us! It is absurd to hear a man of your years talk of people's good wishes for you having proved “unavailing.” There has not been time yet for their availing. I suppose no man of talent—real talent, I mean—ever jumped into the right place for him until after a terrible deal of trying and struggling, if even then; but, if he has the talent, he may still “thank God and write to his friends” (as we used to say at Haddington). Talent is talent, and “singular in itself there is nothing to compare with it—singular in itself there is nothing to equal it.”3 So don't you be getting sour and bitter, and “all that sort of thing,” which would please the Devil very much indeed, and very much vex your sincere friend,