January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO LORD ASHBURTON ; 23 January 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560123-TC-LOA-01; CL 31: 11-13


Chelsea, 23 jany, 1856—

Dear Lord Ashburton,

I got the £20 yesterday morning: many thanks to My Lady and you. I suppose it is Her Ladyship's money, not yours; and must stand in her name? I will put it so unless you prohibit: “The Lady Ashburton—— £20”;1—which will worthily shut-in the Subscription, now, I believe, about £250.

Brydges is Actuary of a certain “Mitre Insurance Office” (in Pall Mall), a very innocent intelligent creature; has been making the due business inquiries, and practical preparations, as to this Miss-Lowe matter; he gives his final report on Friday; when I will make him happy by your message. He talks of running over to New Brunswick, this summer, with his scheme;2 whh corresponds to your notion of what is feasible in the matter,—an interest of the Colonies', rather than of ours, just now. Speed to the poor soul, in working this small thread of things! The Destinies are opulent; and find a man for every kind of job.

You say nothing about gout, so I suppose it is steadily retreating or gone;—nor about My Lady's cold, whh however I learn otherwise is well over. Quiet, in this fine weather, after such a hurly burly,—how welcome to both of you!

I am getting slightly steadier, what may be called better, in body and mind; hope even to profit by my singular month, and all that the beneficent Grange imparted to me in those 28 days, were the account once fairly liquidated.— — But there lies before me such a sea of mud to be swum thro'; and I am such a broken poor soul! Perhaps I shall live to get to the other side, after all.

Every night, since Saturday, I have been in Clausewitz; who is a truly able man, of strong judgment, clear utterance,—tho' highly metaphysical (lost frequently in definitions, theoretic hair-splittings); a visible contemporary of Kant.3 Except Lloyd;4 much more, except Napoleon, and Fredk himself in the best moments, he is the cleverest man I have heard speak of War;—and I am much obliged to your Lordship and the Prince for having (as if by accident) pushed me into him.

What will surprise you, however, he does not in the least confirm the assertion made, but precisely the reverse;—strengthens and clears up, so far as he touches on that matter, the notion I had already groped out about it! Frederick's velocity does not appear to have been surpassed hitherto by anybody, but only to have been imitated and now rivalled by everybody;5 and the intrinsic differences of method (which in strategy are manifold, and in tactics, at least minor tactics, i.e. drill matters and the like, inconsiderable) between Napoln & Fk are, as I still find, what were shadowed out in my last note. Clausewitz admires Napoleon beyond measure; and does not say or intimate anywhere what I there said of Napoleon; but he wrote from 25 to 45 years ago; and had he been fairly out of the comet's tail,6 I believe he wd have seen the stars again more clearly, and spoken perhaps with emphasis of their superior method of motion!— This is what I hitherto get out of the man; but I intend to read to the end, and lie open to light,—were there any extant in this country. For the rest, not being Commander in the Crimea, nor Chief at the Horseguards,7 a very distant outline (provided it be a real one) will suffice me, and errors will not be immediately fatal.— Perhaps we shall hear something of Müffling8 by and by? No haste at all. I wish we had a Russian Peace first!9

May good weather, and all bright and good things, be about The Grange, till we see you again.

Yours always /

T. Carlyle