The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO LORD ASHBURTON ; 9 April 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520409-TC-LOA-01; CL 27: 81-82


Chelsea, 9 April, 1852—

Dear Lord Ashburton,

Here is that second leaf of your beneficent Letter, which, as I explained, does not justly belong to me: the first I mean to preserve among my most valued Papers,—with many reflexions, now and henceforth, which cannot be conveniently uttered at present. Such an occurrence, unique in my experience of this world, naturally excites reflexions of various kinds!—Suffice it to say that your nobleness does not, and shall not if I can help it, meet with any vulgar or ignoble return; and that it shall yet, if there occur any real opportunity, be turned to good for both of us.

For example, if you wanted any Prints, Historical Books &c &c when we are in Germany together? I find in the Grange Library some lacunae which might be filled up; if with advantage to me also, of course you would be all the better pleased. Or independently of Germany,—if you permitted me to constitute myself your Almoner to the extent of that Drummond Document,1 could not I, in such a world as our present one, soon find you good investments for such a sum? Alas, if you did want to treat this burnt offering as a sacred thing, and not consume it as a common joint of mutton, that would not be very difficult! My Lady has just now (in a wretched Newspaper called The People) a wild Lecture by a certain “Wm Maccall,” whose character is well known to me, and has better sides than are shewn in that piece;2—a poor Presbyterian Anti-presbyterian Child of the Northwind; nursed amid bare granites, glaciers, icebergs and spiritual and economical Nova Zemblas; yet in whom there is recognisable a true flash of human valour and fire from Heaven: if I were a god, I sometimes think I wd give a little help to this Maccall, the thriftiest proudest and most necessitous of mortals, in his fierce battle with the Frost-Giants, to see if peradventure he cd work his way thro' them to a summer region, where fruit might grow of his planting. Or failing Maccall, whom perhaps his heterodox radicalism (sharp, bright, lean and savage as a razor) render too shocking to you, there want not others (if one knew them) to whom, and to the world thro' them, a little money might be true beneficence. If you allow me, I will bear this interest in mind, and so try to testify my thanks in a legitimate manner.— And so, at any rate, let us thank God for all blessings; among which the disposition, with or even without the power, to help one another, is surely among the chief.3

I hope the German speculation still stands; and that the American has not seduced you! That, however, is my own prayer merely, from my particular side of the house; and fundamentally I wish you really to choose the wisest way. For my own share, I look more and more across to Prussia and the Riesengebirge,4 perhaps for a good many months. This place gets too dusty for me, too smoky: I should be better to get into the wind again!—

Of course I shd be very proud to know Lord Hardinge, and even to speak with him a little about soldier matters if there were convenience;5 but I fear you must not recommend me as the intended of the Great Fritz, or as in any other way meriting such an honour.

Adieu, for this time, with a thousand thanks and regards. / Yours ever truly / T. Carlyle