August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


JWC TO DAVID DAVIDSON ; 1 April 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580400-JWC-DD-01; CL 33: 200-202


5 Cheyne Row Chelsea [early April 1858]

My dear Friend

This is not to be a letter “all out of my own head” (as the children say) all about feelings!1— I write to you at the suggestion of certain “parties,” for a political purpose (Bless us!).

William Ewart, member for Dumfries,2 is getting up a Committee on the question of colonizing India), and looking all round for men whose evidence could throw any light thereon.3 George Rennie (“of Phantasy” (once!) you may remember him at a Dance at your Mother's,4 if indeed you were not sent to bed, before the company arrived, or learning your lessons in the nursery!) being Friend and Helper to Mr Ewart, came here to ask if we “could suggest anybody, whose evidence would be worth having?” Mr C and I, between us, suggested three “good men”—among whom it seemed to me you were especially “good”; your general human sympathy and general human intelligence combining with the knowledge you must have acquired in course of the employment you had in India, to fit you for speaking on this question before any House of Commons or Uncommons. It was settled then, that it would be good to have you; but would you come? To that question of course I could give no other answer, but that I was sure you would not grudge trouble to yourself if that were the only objection to your coming up to be examined, and if you felt convinced it was for the advantage of your fellow creatures, that you should come. But there might be many things to keep you at home—duties you considered more important. Finally I was told to write and ask you if there was any likelihood of your being in London soon at any rate?—or if you would dislike to come up on purpose? and when it would best suit you to come, provided you did not dislike it? Moreover I was to tell you that your expences would NOT be paid: “the honour of the thing” being supposed worth its own expences! (“to be strongly doubted”5 as the[y] say in Edinr—tho perhaps the good to be done might be worth its own expences! I don't know!)— The Committee is expected to go on thro' the whole session— When Mr Ewart knows your inclinations, if favourable to his purpose, he will then send you a formal summons, for the time you may have indicated as most convenient for yourself. What they need most to have evidence about is the Land Tenure.6

I am in a great bustle today—so must keep to the business. Besides, Monsieur, you owe me a long letter, don't you? You never acknowledged the photographs I sent you at new year. Ever since, I have been a close prisoner—obliged to take care of my health—the most tedious and insipid of all earthly occupation!

If Thomas Erskine come to you; receive him with your open arms as the best benefit I can bestow.7

Kindest regards to your wife and the adorable Babies—and a kiss to the little darling that laughed at me!8

Yours affectionately / Jane Carlyle 9