1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO LORD ASHBURTON; 9 February 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18540209-TC-LOA-01; CL 29: 27-28


Chelsea, 9 feby, 1854—

Dear Lord Ashburton,

I have now seen your Pamphlet both in the loose and in the bound form,1 in which latter state Brookfield sent it me yesterday morning.2 I pronounce it a very appropriate and successful Narrative of that bit of History which took place at Winchester on the day in question: a really neat and effective Pamphlet, creditable to Brookfield's faculty withal, and the House of Groombridge;3—so frugal, brief, distinct, and free from surplusage of any kind;—reads almost like a little scientific Drama: and it is a Drama of Reality, meanwhile, and points to results! May never worse be among us,4 as the Scotch say!— Your Speech I find to be first-rate of its sort: cunningly-devised, so soft, and yet so sharp and deep-piercing; really it is very dextrous indeed; and skips about with a light wiry energy and nimbleness, hitting the big matter, now here now there, into the very heart, in a way that much pleases me. Well, it is all right so far; and we ought to be thankful, and go on better and better. I persuade myself you have here opened, in a really skilful felicitous and compendious way,—by these Prizes and by what you have said of them,—a subject which will be found large enough, momentous enough, one day;—that, in fact, here is the wedge (one of the gentlest and best-ground wedges) fairly got into the wood of as ugly, huge and absurd a block as ever stopped the highway in this world; and that henceforth there will be no rest till said wedge, and all manner of others like it, are hammered home, and the ugly enormous block (produce of mere monkery and other extinct conditions and influences) is reduced to manageable pieces, and ultimately to splinters, to fuel and euthenasia! Heaven send it swiftly. There never was, I think, a more monstrous pernicious delusion than this, which we find quietly established as a universal Nightmare over the “educated” part of the human species, That the end and aim of all learning, is that we may learn to wag our tongue; write books, deliver bursts of parliamentary eloquence5 &c &c! Which may the Devil fly away with, root and branch the sooner the better! Amen, amen.

We have no news here; nothing that is worth mentioning in such a haste as I am in. London streets have grown much more populous for me; and men oftener get me engaged in a few passes of the thing called talk; but that is seldom an advantage to me; for increase either of knowledge on any subject, or of human sympathy, I find it really a deeper kind of silence for most part. Panizzi, Hudson, Cole and Co,6 presided over by the Stump Orator,7 are very strong in this epoch: too strong!

Yesterday I fancied we had got good weather; but today the fine vernal skies are defaced with sleet and stormy rain; which indeed is according to nature too. I hope you have sun at The Grange; I hope my Lady goes duly and rides,—were it only upon Muff;8—and in fine that I shall see you again, in good case, on Monday or shortly after.9

Yours ever truly, /

T. Carlyle