1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO ARTHUR HELPS; 2 June 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550602-TC-AH-01; CL 29: 322-323


Chelsea, 2 june, 1855—

Dear Helps,

I may safely say I have read both the Fragments, especially the big one, with real pleasure and approval. “Remarks” I have none, perhaps a stroke on the margin here and there which really does not pretend to be anything: but this record of my experience as your reader may be worth giving, and encourage your weary steps thro' that great Black wilderness where you have been journeying so long.1

It is a fact then that these pieces, especially the bigger, make capital readings, are are2 likely to suit all kinds of classes, in that respect, who have any naivety of heart, whether much intellect or little,—for your writing will suit both kinds; which is a rare quality in writing. A beautiful piety looks thro' the record everywhere, touches of mournful banter (what we recognize as Helpsisms, nothing loth); and on the whole, a beautiful mild light (as of Sinumbra3 lamps, or of the Sun shining without glare, thro' fleecy clouds as he does at Quito4) illuminates everything that is narrated or that is taught: very well done indeed. I have not read so easily remembered a Book for years back: “easily remembered,” I dare say you understand how many things that presupposes, and I certify to you that it is so.

Your fearless diligence, long-continued patient labour, and determination everywhere to spare no cost in getting to the actual truth so far as possible: these qualities obtain & merit a still more emphatic suffrage from me. They greatly distinguish your book and you,—alas that it should be so,—in this unfortunate epoch of the world. Every man is certain to be damned (so say the very Bishops, if they understood themselves),—very certain to be damned, unless he do even in that fashion: and I leave you to count on your fingers how many you know in any trade who do it! It is actually frightful:—visible at Balaklava, Sodom, and some other places modern and ancient.

Adieu, dear Helps;5 may you go fausto pede [with fortunate footsteps],6 and come out victorious on the hither side of that Black business, whatever it may (essentially) be.

Yours ever sincerely /

T. Carlyle

Both the Pieces go in a Parcel by this days post; and ought to have reached you while you read.