January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO JOHN W. PARKER ; 15 July 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560715-TC-JWP-01; CL 31: 121-123


Chelsea, 15 july, 1856—

My dear Sir,

Along with this I send a Pamphlet, which contains a Narrative interesting to read,—and deserving in my opinion to be known to many persons (indeed to all wise Englishmen, if that were possible) who are more or less concerned in what it says.1

I used to know Brigadier Mackenzie, and see a good deal of him about 11 years ago:2 he is a man of sterling principle (sincerely yet with enlightment3 religions in mind), of very superior intelligence, of long experience in all Indian matters; and I should think as valiant clear and manly a character as could easily be met with;—in particular a Soldier (now of long service) of the very first quality, as I should judge. The word that he deliberately utters I confidently take as true;falsity, I should reckon, cannot be in it; and mistake on any important point, from such an intellect so disciplined, is not at all likely. On reading this Pamphlet, and seeing the man again, I have been struck with many feelings. The small practical result of all which is now this message to you.

If you read the inclosed Note (which do now, and then burn it), you will see I want you to ask yourself: if there is any competent hand in your Circle to whom the task I suggested to that Lady could be hopefully committed? If on reflexion you find there is none, then let the matter end at once; for I have no outlooks elsewhere, and cannot go farther into it, in the terrible confusion of hurry I am now in about quite other things. An Article in Fraser an Article in the Saturday Review: perhaps however you do know somebody who could do them both or one of them: both, I think, would be real gifts to the Public; and really it is on that ground only that I would advise such a thing.—To Venables I told the story: Venables wd do excellently if he liked to engage in it. Or perhaps you know a still likelier I should add farther that Mackenzie is far too much of a Soldier, gentleman, and person of sen[se] to think of making any clamour about his ow[n] bad usage: One of the Black Sergeants (Havildar, or whatever they call them) whom he knows to ha[ve] had, as the reward of conspicuous fidelity, an ig[no]minious injustice done him: on behalf of this Havildar, “a respectable hoary old Hindoo Soldier, now above 70,” and dismissed as a traitor,—on behalf of him Mackenzie is decided on stirring, and will stir in the right place;4 but not on his own behalf at all: “better to eat your peck of dirt,”5 he says. Which I approved of as wise.

Well, in brief, if you see your way toward doing any good with Mrs Mackenzie's Documents,6 and Ms. elucidations,—I have no doubt she will receive you like a gentlewoman, if you call and present that card inclosed. She is a very sensible pleasant still youngish lady (unfortunately a little deaf);7 the Brigadier, being still an invalid, lies rather in the background: but him too, I doubt not, if you wished it, you might see. You, I say all this while; but that of course means your Literary Man a fortiori,—tho' I think it wd be the directest way if you went yourself.

It would be in the highest degree unpleasant to me, and I will believe to the Mackenzies too, if anything not rigorously the fact was stated on this matter.—The Mackenzies leave Town (I think on monday next) for Germany: all this week (not much of it that now remains) is available for the Enterprise with “farther Documents” and expositions; after that, it can only be undertaken on the basis of the Pamphlet itself: I do not think there is anything very sacred in the “Private-and-Confidential” character of the Pamphlet,—certainly nothing beyond what is common on all such occasions. The Writer wd not himself be seen speaking it forth at Charing-Cross,8 nor will he urge any other person so to do: but if any other person finds good to speak it,—the Writer can answer him or others: “You are speaking truth,—and here is proof farther, if you like.”

But enough written. Had I not been in such a hurry, a few lines would have sufficed, and I should have had done more sooner!— — The whole turns on your inclining to go into the business at all. I hope you will; but cannot advise one way or the other. If you do not, it drops so far as I am concerned. I know not at present (being indeed much hidden in my den) any Body of Writers, except those you have about you, who (according to my judgt) are much worthy to have such a thing proposed to them. This therefore is the best thing I can do; and shall be all in that kind.

No answer needed to me. If you decide quite in the negative,—merely burn all these Papers, Card &c &c, and let the thing go up the chimney,

Yours always Truly, /

T. Carlyle