The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO SIR PETER LAURIE ; 12 March 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500312-TC-SPL-01; CL 25: 47-48


Chelsea, 12 March, 1850—

My dear Sir,

Many thanks for your Letter and Pamphlet;1 I am much gratified by your approval of the thing I say,2—by your kind remembrance of me after such a lapse of time. Twenty-five years ago, I think: I can recollect as yesterday the day I met you in the Louvre, and went to dine with you in the Palais Royal;3—and much has come and gone since then!

My testimony in regard to Prisons may be considered as in some sort a voice of Nature; for I have never had the least concern with Prison-management; but the babble I have been obliged to read and hear upon it, for a long time past, has been extremely disgusting to me. If I could run a redhot poker thro' the belly of all that scandalous nonsense, I would gladly do it!

I have read your Pamphlet; find it grounded upon the plainest common sense, and the conclusion it advocates (with many other conclusions which will grow out of that) to be unavoidable. A certain Major Smith,4 a clever kind of man, called on me yesterday with magnificent plans he has of profitably employing all manner of Criminals in making railways in N. America,—one big railway from Halifax across to Vancouver's Island,—which would indeed “employ” all the Criminals in Nature for many years to come, if he could get them fastened to it! He would put them under military law; get Officers from the Clubs to command them; &c &c.— In fact I often think it will come to this, That the State shd seize on every Criminal on his first conviction of crime, and say to him, “You are no longer free; you are my Captive, bond-servant, soldier or even slave; and shall go with me, till I either drill you a little, or finding you undrillable put a conclusion to the mischief of you in some good way!”— — However this may be it is a clear case that the “benevolent dodge” is now nearly out; and this will be a kind of deliverance, whatever come next.

With many regards and remembrances I remain always,

Yours very sincerely /

T. Carlyle

To Sir Peter Laurie &c &c