CARLYLE, THOMAS (1795-1881, essayist and historian)
CARLYLE'S DISAFFECTION FOR PICKWICK REVEALED. In previously printed texts of the present letter, including The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Carlyle, edited by C.R. Sanders and K.J. Fielding, 1981 [published from a transcript and Shepherd's Carlyle, 1881], the name of the novel with which Carlyle was rather handsomely contrasting Richardson's Literary Leaves has been consistently suppressed. Its identity as Pickwick is for the first time revealed in the present original letter. All the printed texts contain omissions, inaccurate readings and changes in punctuation. The full passage reads: '...How many parlour firesides are there this winter in England, at which this Volume, could one give credible announcement of its quality, would be right pleasant company! There are very many, could one give the announcement: but no such announcement can be given; therefore the parlour firesides must even put up with Pickwick or what other stuff Chance shovels ['shoves' in printed texts] in their way, and read, tho' with malediction all the time. It is a great pity...'
Carlyle gives vent to some highly characteristic phraseology: '...We are now seemingly pretty near the point where all criticism and proclamation in matters literary has degenerated into an inane jargon, incredible, unintelligible, inarticulate as the cawing of choughs and rooks...Here in the Fog-Babylon, amid mud and smoke, in the infinite din of "vociferous platitude" and quack outbellowing quack, with Truth and Pity on all hands ground under the wheels, -- can one call it a home, or a world? It is a waste chaos, where we have to swim painfully for our life...This seems to me a great truth, in any exile or chaos whatsoever, that sorrow was not given us for sorrow's sake, but always and infallibly as a lesson to us from which we are to learn somewhat; and which, the somewhat once learned, ceases to be sorrow. I do believe this; and study in general to "consume my own smoke", -- not indeed without very ugly out-puffs at times!...' In a letter referred to in The Collected Letters, Richardson and his pupils comment on the startling novelty of Carlyle's style.
David Richardson, journalist, poet, educator and professional soldier, spent most of his career in India. He edited the Bengal Annual, the Calcutta Monthly Journal and the Calcutta Literary Gazette and became professor and principal of the Hindu College at Calcutta.
Dickens himself was ever a great enthusiast for Carlyle and he later dedicated Hard Times to him.