1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON; 20 October 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18541020-TC-LA-01; CL 29: 174-177


Chelsea, 20 Octr 1854—

Dear Lady,— Today I enclose your Scotch military Letter, as I am not to see you tomorrow, in your transit thro' our dim regions. The poor man's remarks, especially his spellings “Malty” &c are very amusing. Undeniably the Grand Turk “is but a poor body to have so many wives,” and to get 3000 brave English soldiers blown to pieces for his cause and theirs!1 I am sorry to feel less and less enthusiasm about that high matter the longer I think about it! Frederic the Great got the Battle of Rosbach2 (a thing memorable for several centuries to French gentlemen) at an expense of 478 men, tho' his opponents were above double, and the ground of their own choosing; but it was by generalship on his part. On the other hand, the Russians themselves, in surprising of Schweidnitz two years afterwards (or helping Laudon and the Austrians to surprise it) came upon an unexpected wet Ditch; paused on the edge of it; and, by word of command, marched into it,—till they were drowned in sufficient quantity to make a bridge.3 This can be done without generalship!— However, we must by no means do croaking at present; but keep all these angry reflexions strictly to ourselves, to be burnt up among our own smoke. I hope our “Malty” correspondent, nor poor “Andrew Brist”4 is not among the slain! But in fact I am very sad, in thinking of the general matter: a War undertaken to please Able Editors and the windy part of the population, the solid part being either indifferent or flatly against; and a War carried on amid the blaring of universal stump-oratory, and the unmelodious rumour of “Own Correspondents” at every step.— This morning there came (thro' Platnauer5 to my Wife) account of a Lieutt Wynne of the 23d (Miss Wynne's cousin) who is among the killed; his Brother-in-law, a Coll Brownlow (or-rigg?) who is now Genl do.6 went out to seek him on the field; “found him, his Coll and another officer, lying all dead, with their faces to the sun”;—at this last phrase, poor Jane burst into tears, and I tho' a stranger had some twinge of disposition to accompany. Brownlow writes it is a wonder any of them are alive, the cannon balls flew so thick.— Enough, enough!—

I went yesterday to the State-Paper Office, consulted Mr Lemon, was by him referred to Mr Lechmere the head man there (Keeper of the Rolls or something equivalent),7 both of whom treated me with the last degree of politeness, and, on hearing and considering the matter, explained that Neuberg would simply have to petition Lord Clarendon, and that there would not be the least difficulty. I have sent Neuberg the form of a little Petition which he is to write, and given him along with it a short Note for Lord Clarendon in which the thing can be inclosed:—if your beneficent Ladyship could, by any opportunity, say a little word about it to the Foreign Secretary, there might be some expiditive and generally favourable virtue in the same. I hope and trust, however, there will be no stop even otherwise.— It is an infinite relief to me to see some prospect (as there is here) of getting thro' a portion of that horrible job: the History, I perceive, does in part lie there, for the first time; and Neuberg, above all men, is the thick-built, patient and clearsighted man to fish it for me, by the half-ounce a day, from the wide lakes of water in which it there swims. Pity me, O my Lady; and don't be angry at me.

On Wednesday, I perceived by the Gate,8 you were gone; I can only hope Lord A.'s bad twinge is off again: it is too hard to fall directly into that a second time, on just looking at London. Tell him, if it be any comfort to him, his servant my unlucky chin grows uglier and uglier, and indeed is now reaching a transcendent pitch in that direction!

Yesternight a clever little Sculptor mannikin (one Woolner who had no money), who had been to the Australian-Diggings for 2 years, came suddenly in.9 Digging, which he tried for months, was utterly unproductive; but his Sculptural faculty,—Medallions (chiefly of Patriot Gentn and radical Editors) proved highly lucrative; and he has now come to this country, to do a Public Statue of one Wentworth the chief Aristogeiton10 of those parts. Society for the present has pretty much gone to sticks, he reports, in that region,—“milk 4 shillings a quart in Melbourne, and most commonly every man to brush his own boots”:—but it is firmly expected, he says, that things will recover;—so many new people do come out, not one in 10 of whom can live by gold-digging.— This is decidedly rather an ingenious young man, with a picturesque genius, and clear eyes in his head; from whom I hope to get a few more traits yet, on occasion.

Oh my Lady, my Lady, what a barren mass of stuff is all this, with which I have bored your noble mind! And had another thing or two to say, perhaps not quite so boring! But “business” must be done;—I refer it to yourself.— On returning from The Grove11 surely you will let me know, and perhaps stay a day or two, in spite of the soot? I am yours forever

T. Carlyle.