Thanks to reader L for sending me a note about the Carlyle Letters Online, a collection of 19th century letters from Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle. There are over 10,000 letters here! You can check them out at http://carlyleletters.dukejournals.org/ .
You can browse by date, recipient, or subject. Because I don’t know too much about this collection I chose to browse by subject. There’s a (very abridged) list of subjects on the subject page, but look at the top of the page to browse the topic list alphabetically, from “A. B.” (J. S. Mill) to “Zwei fliegen”. Click on a subject on the left and the list of relevant letters appears instantly on the right. Very cool.
One of the subjects was “Advice to Aspiring Writer” so I chose that. It was one letter, written in June 1849 by Thomas Carlyle to an unidentified correspondent. The text of the letter is included, but not the original image. (One great quote about being an author: “In no province of human industry is there hungrier competition, and more dark stolidity awarding the decision, than in that same.”)
To the right of the letter is additional linkage that will let you save the letter to a “My Carlyle” file, get citation information, or purchase a printed volume of the letters. There is also an option to see “similar letters” but that didn’t work well for me. For the letter I mentioned above I got 505 similar letters, all marked “Unknown Correspondent.” Since the search results for the letters don’t give any idea of subject, I had no idea of what I was looking at — and no desire to wade through 505 letters.
You can get information about Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle at this part of the Web site.