October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO C. G. DUFFY ; 19 January 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460119-TC-CGD-01; CL 20: 103-106


Chelsea, 19 jany, 1846—

My dear Sir,

I am about to do what to another kind of man than you I should myself regard as a very strange thing: I am sending you the “Curse of Cromwell”1 to get it improved for me! The case is, I am very busy preparing a second edition of that Book; and am anxious, this being the last time that I mean to touch it, to avoid as many errors as may be avoidable. In the Irish part of the business I could not, after considerable search and endeavour, procure any tolerable Irish Atlas; and in spelling out the dreadful old Newspaper Letters from that scene, which are nearly indecipherable sometimes, I felt now and then my footing by no means secure. Other errors there may be which an intelligent punctual man, acquainted with the localities, might put me on the way of rectifying; but these of the Names of Places and such like he could himself rectify. For Geographical Corrections, I see nothing that I can do so wise as depend upon you and your help! If you cannot help me, the thing must stand as it is; for I know no other man connected with the scene to whom I can apply; and for my own share I have already, with my small means (Frazer's Handbook2 and such like), had a toughish wrestle with it, and done pretty much what I could in the matter.

My chief dubieties regarded Tipperary, Waterford and that region;3 but in all Irish regions I should like well to have help. Where you know a truehearted intelligent man on any of the scenes treated of, who will take so much trouble for a man seeking truth,—tho' under questionable aspect,—if you would send him the sheet referring to his locality, and solicit for me his humane help as soon as convenient,—certainly I should regard it as a real kindness, and good and not evil would be done by it. Error of every kind ought to be extinguished wherever one finds it; that is the mission of a human intelligence in this world!

Situated as I know you to be at present, it seems a shame to trouble you with such things! Accordingly, do not go farther in it than your occasions will allow; I have very specially to beg you, Not If nothing come of this my endeavour,—I will say to myself, “Nothing could come of it; I tried what seemed possible.” And so I will leave it with you.

We read your review of Cromwell in the Nation last week;4 and could not but pronounce it heroic! The pain you were to get by these remarks of mine was very present to me while I wrote; but it was not to be avoided. I do deliberately consider that Ireland is actually called upon to know the truth about Oliver Cromwell; that it for the present does not at all know the truth about him, and about the meaning of him,—and ought, the sooner the better, to know it. That you, across such a mahlstrom5 of Irish indignation, have nevertheless discerned for yourself that the man was a Hero, full of Manhood, Earnestness and Valour,—this, I think, is the creditablest thing I have yet known of you, and to me also is a very great satisfaction. Depend upon it, such a man, wherever he goes in God's Creation, means good and not ill,—and also, if we will understand him right, does good and not ill! Alas, alas, that is a long crabbed chapter: but it seems to me certain that you are yet to change your views in regard to many matters in that province and what depends on it. For example, how would you like if, after all these denunciations by such witnesses as Clarendon, Carte &c who had no kind of chance to know about the matter,6 it should turn out to be the actual God's Fact that Cromwell did not in any respect depart from the established rules of War while in Ireland; did not as he himself says (in a Paper I have lately got within reach of) “sanction or order the death of any one not found in arms?”7 I believe you would like very ill to be found defending what is not, even with all Ireland, England and Scotland joining chorus with you!

My surmise is, that this will yet turn out to be the acknowledged fact: evidence to the contrary I must say I have yet found none that seems at all conclusive;—and if you will give me or get me a list of the witnesses to the fact, I will actually go again to the Museum and do my best to sift the truth out of them. But alas there is no fact at all about the History of Cromwell that I have been able to satisfy myself about but I had first of all to bid an insane shrieking whirlwind of exasperated and astonished witnessers, “Be silent you, till we see!”— I have taken down your Authorities from the Nation; pray give more if you have them.8

Excuse all this. I could like much to talk weeks with you on those subjects. For it seems to me, as I have said already, Ireland, which means many millions of my own brethren, has again a blessed chance in having made a man like you to speak for her,—and also (excuse the sincerity of the word) that your sermon to her is by no means yet according to the real Gospel in that matter.

Adieu my dear Sir. We greatly regretted Not to be at home when you were here. Good be with you: a patient brave heart, and a clear candid head, and all manner of good. Yours very sincerely T. Carlyle