The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO A. H. SIMPSON ; 19 July 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18400719-TC-AHS-01; CL 12: 202-203


Chelsea, 19 July, 1840—

Dear Sir,

Having to leave Town, probably tomorrow, for a journey of a week, I cannot promise myself the honour of attending with you at the Colonial Office on Tuesday. A copy of the Memorial from Paisley has been forwarded to me since you were here. I beg you will express, to the Gentlemen who named me as one of their Deputies on this occasion, my sincere acknowledgements for such a mark of their respect.

Whether my presence with you on Tuesday could have done any good, there or elsewhere, is still doubtful: but that your object is good, and that no furtherance of mine whensoever possible should be withheld from it, is very clear. The request you have to make seems one of the reasonablest, justest; deeply grounded on the natural truth of things. What juster request could be made by Persons Governed, to the Person Governing them, than this same: “We cannot get existed here; we are perishing, soul and body, and causing others to perish here: for us the result of all British legislating, instituting, governing, and Parliamentary debating, is this, that, by the utmost labour of our bodies and contrivance of our minds, we cannot, in the over-crowded British land, get food to eat: we petition to be let out of it, into another land where by working we may live!” The funds of a Nation cannot, one would say, be expended on any more legitimate object.

What a Minister of State, hampered by considerations very partially known to the like of me, may decide upon as to this request, I will not predict: but it requires no gift of prophecy to understand that this, and very many more of the like tendency must one day be acceded to, or even be anticipated and invited, if worse is not to befal. Governments, one may venture to guess, will actually, for one thing, have to set on foot an organised continuous System of Emigration, as they have an organised continuous System of Soldiering, and various other System: they may find, in such an Europe as ours, in such an England as ours, that this and not Soldiering has more and more become the business of Governments.1 And I think he will be a right noble Minister of State, and have deserved well of his country, who first, in a wise way, in spite of impediments, contrives to plant the germ of such an Emigration System—the sooner the better!

Impossible cannot be considered the final answer here. Much is possible, much will have to be possible. In My Lord Castlereagh's time, I can recollect, it was found possible to raise 120 Millions a-year to put the French to death:2 cannot the tenth, the hundredth, the thousandth part of that be raised to keep the English alive?

I remain, / Dear Sir,

Yours very truly,

T. Carlyle