The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO THOMAS BALLANTYNE ; 8 October 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401008-TC-TB-01; CL 12: 281-283


Chelsea, 8th October, 1840.

My dear Sir— I am very glad to hear of you again, and hear nothing but good. Occasionally some trace of you turns up in the Anti-Corn-Law Circular, which they send me hither; but otherwise, for a longer time than usual, I have had to fancy what you were about. By the bye, who writes that Anti-Corn-Law Circular?1 He is a man of some emphasis; apt to get a little boisterous at times; but zealous, thoroughly in earnest, likely to be useful. I know not what progress the cause makes. It seems to me many things between the Middle and Lower Classes will have to be adjusted before there can be any right settlement there. And who knows but the blind landlords, at their own extreme peril, are doing a good service by delaying the Corn-Law settlement till much else be once a little better settled? Small thanks to them for that! But all things do, in some sort, work together for good.

My Critic in the Quarterly is understood to be an Oxford Doctor of the name of Sewell, a notability and leading Puseyite there. I have known the man from afar for some years; and wondered, as he reciprocally does, to find how lovingly in many directions he and I went along together, always till we arrived at the conclusion, and how there we whirled round to the right and to the left about, and walked off like imcompatibles, mutually destructives, like fire walking off from water! I do not like the Puseyites so ill as you do; in fact, though I think them as mad as anybody does, I might say I rather like them well. They have many good ideas, genuinely true, and sadly forgotten in our times; and the practical application they make of all these seems so entirely distracted as to be altogether harmless, and incapable of injuring anything except the Church of England itself,—for which institution, indeed, they really appear to me to be the fatallest symptom that it has ever yet exhibited. In one sense or other, it is true and must be forever true, that this world is a God's world, and must be governed as a “Church,” or else ill-governed, anarchic, wretched. Too many cannot be convinced of this, all ought to be convinced of it. And then, as the next step, when the Puseyites come forward and say, Behold are not we the Church; is not Heaven's thaumaturgy with us, dwelling here under this Shovel-hat?—the world will naturally answer, Let us see it, then; work miracles with it; or else, working none, go to perdition with it! I think that crisis is rapidly drawing on. The Puseyites will contribute their share of good; the Benthamees and they may well neutralize each other, and give us some solid result, the madness of each party being left as caput mortuum [death's head] there!

My reviewer in the Edinburgh seemed to me of a much more detestable school than these poor Quarterlies. He writes down this doctrine, That “hunger” is perennial, irremediable among the lower classes of men, here, everywhere and at all times,—the horse that will work is fed and lodged, but the man cannot be so; and all “liberal government,” what does it mean but a joining together of those who have some money to keep those who have none quiet—in their hunger? The pigs have all to die, no help for that; but by God's blessing we will keep down their squealing! It struck me I had never seen in writing so entirely damnable a statement; though it is what all manner of Whigs and Benthamee Radicals, and other Atheistic men (as our Pusey friends would call them) do constantly act upon without writing it.2 Good never came from such people. It is to me not a sorrowful prognostic that the day of that class of politicians does in all ways draw towards its close.

You ask me for liberal political philosophers among the Germans. I rather think none of the great Germans have ever gone much upon political philosophies; I fancy even, they did not care much for that sort of produce. The great political philosophy is that every man be a real man, not an imaginary one; he will then whether as Tory politician or as Radical one say and do something useful! Richter and Fichte were resolute Liberals (as we should say); Fichte even a loud one: whom many others, but not of great mark, have followed. The present race, of which I know but little, seemed to be of small moment; Sansculottists, Ballot-boxists, etc., etc. I suspect no help lies there for us in this matter,—except indeed as help does lie for the sick paralysis of man's soul in this epoch, and therefore help for all matters that man has to do with.

My pen to-day is obliged to go as for the King's Hundred.3 I suspect small light can lie in these words of mine to guide your inquiries; but rather darkness visible. Nevertheless I do mean what I write; and perhaps to make it all out and put it all together will be no useless exercise for your own thoughts.

It was a great pity you had not been a day earlier last year! We hope you will come again, when the time serves us better.— I have hardly been out of Town this year at all. I have been writing down my Lectures of last Summer; I know not whether I shall print them. I have an immense stock of reading about English Puritanism and Oliver Cromwell, laid out for the Winter. Till we become Believers and Puritans in our way, no result will be arrived at!— Believe me, my dear sir,

Yours very heartily, /