1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO C. A. WARD; 6 July 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18540706-TC-CAW-01; CL 29: 123-124


Chelsea, 6 july, 1854—

Dear Sir,

I have looked a little into your Manuscript; and am sorry to report that I do not see any likelihood of its ever, in its present form, being successful as a Literary production.1

If you resolve to devote yourself to Literature, and the questionable enterprise of unfolding whatever gifts may be in you in the shape of mere Spoken or Written Words,—which, for a young man in earnest with his Life, and possessed of real capabilities and opportunities for work in this world, I consider a very questionable enterprise indeed,—it is clearly necessary, in the first place, that you instruct yourself, acquire knowledge far and wide, amass experiences, and digest the same into definite results,—in short, that you should have attained to some conquest of what at least seems to yourself Wisdom and beautiful Insight, before you attempt uttering yourself with the whole world for audience. You are otherwise (I mean to say, every man is otherwise, for what the special “you” may be in this case is not known to me) in the condition of a man “speaking” without having anything to “say.”— I think I may safely recommend a great deal of preliminary reading, consideration, study and research, before you seriously attempt this Autobiography now in posse [which exists only as a possibility].

Rushworth,2 a dreadfully dull big Book, is still quite capable of being dug up from the Old-Book Shops; Bohn's or Willis's, in the Covent Garden region, are probably the likeliest to begin with.3— In haste,

Yours Sincerely,

T. Carlyle

Your Ms is in safe keeping here; and will be delivered by the servant to anybody presenting your Card.