January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO S. A. ALLIBONE ; 18 July 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590718-TC-SAA-01; CL 35: 150-151


Aberdour, Fife (for Chelsea, London), 18 july 1859—


A good while ago (I am ashamed to acknowledge my neglect by saying so, but it was not intentional, nor is it quite witht excuse), your massive impressive Volume1 was duly handed in at Chelsea;—nor did I fail to look a little into it, tho’ exceedingly busy then, & now.

I can truly say the labour you have gone into (which appears to be faithfully done, wherever I can judge of it) fills me with astonishment; and is indeed of an amount almost frightful to think of. There seems to be no doubt the Book will be welcome to innumerable reading beings, and tell them much that they wish to know: to me the one fault was, that, like the Apostle Peter's Sheet of Beasts, it took in “the clean and unclean,”2—and thereby became of such unmanageable bulk, to say no more. Readers are not yet aware of the fact, but a fact it is of daily increasing magnitude, and already of terrible importance to readers, That their first grand necessity in reading is to be vigilantly conscientiously select; and to know everywhere that Books, like human souls, are actually divided into what we may call “sheep and goats,”—the latter put inexorably on the left hand of the Judge;3 and tending, every goat of them, at all moments, whither we know; and much to be avoided, and if possible ignored, by all sane creatures!—

This is candidly my verdict; and I regret to think you cannot well like it; nor as you perceive, had I any wish to produce it, till summoned.

With many respects and acknowledgements. / Yours sincerely,

T. Carlyle.

S. A. Allibone Esq, &c &c / Philadelphia