If You’re Having a Bad Day, Consider Thomas Carlyle

Occasionally I run across something that just begs to be shared.

According to today’s edition of The Writer’s Almanac, December 4 is the birthday of British essayist, philosopher, and historian Thomas Carlyle, who was born in Ecclefachan, Scotland (1795), and is best known for writing The French Revolution: A History (1837), which inspired Charles Dickens to write A Tale of Two Cities (1859). The entry continues:

It was as a philosopher and social historian that Carlyle found his calling. He wrote The French Revolution, an immense tome, only to lend it to fellow philosopher John Stuart Mill, whose maid accidentally tossed it into the fire. Undeterred, Carlyle rewrote the entire manuscript from scratch.

He found a wife, Jane Baillie Welsh, but she was still partly in love with a minister, and made no secret of not loving Carlyle. They lived in farmhouse in Scotland for the first six years of their marriage, during which he wrote madly and she did housework. Over the course of their courtship and marriage, they exchanged more than 9,000 letters. They were intensely unhappy, often infatuated with others, but they remained together. A friend once said, “It was very good of God to let Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle marry one another, and so make only two people miserable and not four.”

Nowadays, if we lose a manuscript, it’s the computer’s fault.  As for an unhappy marriage, you’re on your own there.

The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor can be found at  http://writersalmanac.org/.

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