October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO EDWARD EVERETT ; 4 May 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460504-TC-EE-01; CL 20: 188-190


Chelsea, 4 May, 1846—

My dear Sir,

Accept many kind thanks for your kind remembrance of me from beyound the Sea.1 I should long ago have said in words what pleasure it gave me: but I have been so hurried and confused this long while, I waited always till the Printer's Devils should abate a little. And now, after all, there is no leisure, what one can call leisure,—which indeed I think is somewhat of a rarity in this world;—and I must still content myself with writing you a very hurried word.

The thing I have been about in these last months is a new Edition of the Book on Cromwell,—augmented, this time, by some fifty or sixty new Letters of his which had turned up in all manner of places: a very dreary and confused operation for me; but one inherent in the nature of the case, and necessary to be gone into; and on the whole not to be grudged,—for I believe the History of Oliver is a very good investment for Literary industry; one of the best! My part in the business is finished the other day, all but Proofsheets which also will soon be finished here: I will then crave leave to hold myself quit of this Enterprise; new Letters of Cromwell, should such again turn up, must seek a new Editor, or be content at once to go into an Appendix, and stand there on their own legs. The Fifty or Sixty I have now had such trouble with are by no means intrinsically of proportionate importance; indeed they are altogether unimportant many of them, not elucidating much, hardly altering anything; my chief care had to be, all along that they should do the Book no harm. You will see what they are, you too, from New York, I suppose; in not many weeks hence.— Mr Everett Junior's two little Oliver Documents are in the Appendix:2 I also found a better (not third-hand but second-hand) Copy of John Cotton's Letter in the Museum here, and have substituted that; not forgetting the fact you gave me at Addiscombe, by far the memorablest fact there is in regard to Cotton, that it was he who carried the name of Boston over the Sea, a very memorable performance on his part!3 Not long since I got upon the trace of his Commentary on St John (John Cotton's Commentary on St John, London, 1656,—some three years after his decease); and hoped to have procured it for New England: but the Bookseller answers unluckily, It is already sold.— — There has been a good deal of noise about this Book on Cromwell among us; rather discordant and sometimes pretty longeared noise: but on the whole the confused verdict is, You are partly right about this Cromwell. Which, for all manner of reasons high and low, I am very glad of.4 High and highest reasons:—alas, this brutal Old-Jew method of treating Heroes as Caitiffs and Caitiffs as Heroes, is it not simply the wellhead of all the sorrowful confusion one sees under the Sun!—

We are very busy here, debating and re-debating our Anti-Cornlaw; to the infinite tedium, distress and uncertainty of all the world. No mortal, if it be not a Printer's Devil, thinks of reading that distracted jargon: but in the meanwhile there is universally obstructed Trade, railway gambling fallen prostrate into railway ruin, danger of Famine near at hand; and as yet nobody can guess the finis of all this Parliamentary eloquence, when it will end, or how it will end. Parliaments in an epoch like ours are a very singular class of entities!— Human creatures ought to be tolerant of a good deal of Nonsense in this world: yet at length there comes a point when they have to grow intolerant, and peremptorily bid the Nonsense go its ways! The clear discernment of this point ahead of us all at present, one cannot say how near, often fills me with a kind of terror.

Surely, my dear Sir, you are happy to be out of all that; honourably free of it; raised from it at once into a station far higher and far quieter. I shall henceforth fancy you in your New Cambridge, enjoying a calm life, and withal accomplishing much benefit which otherwise would have been impossible. Education, if it is with you as with us, does stand in need of much improvement. Alas, an Age which has flowered out into Black-or-White Surplice Controversy5 and a Monument to Hudson,—cannot be expected to be very good at educating! One day it will shake off its Eighteen and odd Centuries of rags; emerge from the dingy fetid Monmouth Street it has too long dwelt in; and, getting sight of the Eternal Firmaments again, be much astonished at itself!— Did you ever read Meister's Travels by Goethe? If not, let me recommend it to your good attention. It is very beautiful and wise; beautiful not as an idle Picture on the Wall, but as a Symbol (I think) of extremely precious truths too.

We hear of you often, from the Bath-House quarter and elsewhere.6 A word from you at any time will give me great pleasure; double, if I can in anything be useful to you. I will beg a continuance of your friendly regard; and can very faithfully promise you the like. Sincerely Yours

T. Carlyle