1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO AN UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT; 4 October 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18541004-TC-UC-01; CL 29: 162-163


Chelsea, 4 Octr, 1854—

Dear Sir,

There are, in these verses you have sent me, evidences of talent, ardour, generous aspiration; good gifts both intellectual and moral;—which I should be extremely sorry to think of your devoting to the idle trade of what is called “Poetry” at present. I recommend you rather to store your mind assiduously with good knowledge, with noble ideas worked out to the shape of clear conviction and purpose: this for a long while, by every method in your power,—by the study of good Books and converse of good men (avoiding bad, in both kinds, as you would avoid poison); and still more by nobly and manfully doing, as it should be done, whatever employment is entrusted to you:—you will then, in a mature manner, begin to perceive much better what real Poetry is, and how little it has to do with the tagging of verses (for most part) in this so terribly serious epoch of the world.

You may believe me I wish you cordially well, and should be glad your talent were not wasted, neither wrapt in a napkin to rot, nor brought into the vulgar marketplace to be sold by auction on the melancholy terms now common. I subscribe myself

Yours very sincerely /

T. Carlyle