Monday, September 24, 2007

Carlyle (Stern and Stout!)

[Thomas Carlyle to Coventry Patmore]

Gill,9 August, 1856.
My Dear Sir,

The public of readers, now that everybody has taken to read, and whosoever has twopence in his pocket to pay into a Circulating Library, whether he have any fraction of wit in his head or not, is sovereign Rhadamanthus of Books for the time being, has become more astonishing than ever! Probably there was such a Plebs before, entitled to hold up its thumb with vivat or pereat to the poor fencers in the Literary Ring. The only remedy is, not to mind them; to set one's face against them like a flint: for they cannot kill one, after all, tho' they think they do it: one has to say, "Dull, impious canaille, it was not for you that I wrote; not to please you that I was brandishing what weapons the gods gave me!" Patience, too, in this world, is a very necessary element of victory.
It is certain, if there is any perennial running Brook, were it the smallest rill coming from the eternal fountains, whole Atlantic Oceans of froth will not be able to cover it up for ever; said rill will, one day, be seen running under the light of the sun, said froth having altogether vanished no man knows whither. That is the law of Nature, in spite of all blusterings of any Plebs or Devil; and we must silently trust in that.
Unhappily the reviewer too is generally in the exact ratio of the readers, a dark blockhead with braggartism superadded; probably the supreme blockhead of blockheads, being a vocal one withal, and conscious of being wise. Him also we must leave to his fate: an inevitable phenomenon ("like people, like priest"), yet a transitory one, he too.

You need not doubt but I shall be ready, of my own accord, to recommend this Book by all opportunities for what I privately perceive it to be. I am considering also whether there is not some exceptional reviewer, whom I might endeavor to interest in it, with some hope of profit; shall perhaps hit on such a one by and by: unhappily my connexion with that guild of craftsmen is almost null (or less) this long while. You may depend upon it I will neglect no good occasion -- recommending perseverance in the mean time and at all times, and what the Scotch call "a stout heart to a steep hill," I remain always,

Yours very sincerely,
T. Carlyle

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