July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO LORD ASHBURTON ; 29 November 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18551129-TC-LOA-01; CL 30: 126-127


Chelsea, 29 Novr, 1855—

Dear Lord Ashburton,

Were I never so much your “enemy,” I could say nothing against that speech.1 It is excellent, in the way of speaking,—if you will go ahead in that direction. It has the old sharp brilliancy, and pointed dexterity, force and delicacy; and comes home upon the two heads of method, in a way not to be surpassed. How kindly you interpret the thick smoke of that Bromwicham2 dining and botheration to mean (what it intrinsically does, if you deduct the 999 parts without meaning) a desire to kindle up the soul of the working man into some heroic knowledge of his work;—a most true and important problem; whh Bromwicham, I doubt, will never solve. Then with what a delicate yet decisive finger you point to the bottomless sea of fire that lies under all this dining, and instituting and palavering,—as penalty for not solving the essential problems of the matter, and merely talking about solving them, with drink before us and tavern victual in the inside of us! Nothing can be better in the way of speech, if you will speak to such a pack. My chief dissent, I find always, lies in this, That you hope some advance will be made by these methods of institutioning, dinnering &c &c; and that I, unfortunate, see no shadow of salvation on that side. I grant withal that the British Nation (luckless eating blockhead) “has no other method”; that I am atrabiliar in humour, &c &c: and so the discrepancy is not so great perhaps even on that side: but as to speaking, my verdict is truly as above; and you have a right to all the benefit or satisfaction you can find therein. I hope moreover it does not differ from My Lady's opinion, but coincides with it: for it is not strange to me you should find an oracle there, in one of the best heads in the world so related to you as that one.— — If I could persuade you and her to commence actual “teaching” (voiceless, I mean, concrete, and solidly practical) of “common things”3 to the poor young populations that depend on you,—there were a result: fruitful, beneficient, to one knows not what extent! But I know it is supremely difficult, ugly in the doing as any real labour is, only thrice beautiful when done; and I cannot recommend thin skins to engage with such a thing!—

The poor Duc d'Aumale has lost his good old mother, we hear;4 which is a sad piece of human fortune, doubly so to exiles.— I suppose it may practically occasion much trouble at The Grange, many rearrangements postponements and so forth.

It was settled (and I hope, is) we were to come before long: I shall see The Grange again therefore;—may there be a quiet horse, with some length of leg, to take me on many fine rides and dialogues with your Lp as heretofore!—

Ever yours sincerely /

T. Carlyle