The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO EMMA RIDSDALE ; 13 November 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18521113-TC-ERI-01; CL 27: 357-358


Chelsea, 13 Novr, 1852—

My dear Madam,

I am gratified to hear that you, and other gentle high-aspiring souls, get some good of the things I have written. Of course you will find contradiction, many things to tolerate; and yet perhaps if I could shew you quite to the bottom of what I mean, there would be less discrepancy than you often painfully feel! But that is not the law of human speech; we must be content to do without that.

I had no recollection, and but for your letter have still not the least impression, of having classed E. Swedenborg1 among such a set of persons. I spoke at that time from mere common hearsay,—rashly, yet without intentional disloyalty. I have since made some personal acquaintance with the man; read several of his Books, what Biographies of him could be heard of;2 and have reflected for myself on the singular appearance he makes in this world, and the notable message he was sent to deliver to his fellow creatures in that epoch. A man of great and indisputable cultivation, strong mathematical intellect, and the most pious seraphic turn of mind; a man beautiful, loveable and tragical to me, with many thoughts in him, which when I interpret them for myself I find to belong to the high and perennial in human thought:—whatever I may conjecture, in my own defence, about the strange impediments, and unconquerable imprisoning conditions, under which he had to live and to meditate, surely I am very far indeed from ranking him, or those that honestly follow him, under any dishonourable category!—

Believe me, / My dear Madam / Yours sincerely /

T. Carlyle