The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO RODGER; 17 November 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18501117-TC-R-01; CL 25: 289-290


Chelsea, November 17 1850

Apparently you are a young man, of unusual, perhaps of extreme sensibility, and placed at present in the unfortunate position of having nothing to do. Vague reverie, chaotic meditations, the fruitless effort to sound the unfathomable, is the natural result for you. Such a form of character indicates the probability of superior capabilities to work in this world; but is also, unless guided towards work, the inevitable prophecy of much suffering, disappointment, and failure in your course of life.

Understand always that the end of man is an action, not a thought.1 Endeavour incessantly, with all the strength that is in you, to ascertain what—there where you are—there as you are—you can do in this world; and upon that bend your whole faculties; regarding all reveries, feelings, singular thoughts, moods, &c., as worth nothing whatever, except as they bear on that, and will help you towards that. Your thoughts, moods, &c., will thus in part legitimate themselves, and become fruitful possessions for you; in part fall away as illegitimate, and die out of the way, and your goal will become clearer to you every step you courageously advance towards it. No man ever understood this universe; each man may understand what good and manful work it lies with him to accomplish there.

‘Cheer up, there's gear to win you never saw!’

So says the old song;2 and I can say no more to you.— Yours, with many good wishes,