The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO HENRIETTA MARIA STANLEY ; 13 July 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410713-TC-HMS-01; CL 13: 181-182


Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan, N.B. 13 july 1841—

Well, dear Mrs Stanley, what was the final issue of the Poll?1 You do not tell me; tho' it must have decided itself on Thursday last. Perhaps you did not understand that I was still here. Or am I to infer from the Manchester Newspaper itself that all went as it should have done?2 Pray indicate to me, by some word or sign.

You had truly all the talent on your side, and by much the better half of the right,—such right as was going! Indeed, if the poor Tories did not mean, in some obscure way, something far other and better than anything they can articulately speak or propose, their existence in the world at present would be a kind of insult to mankind. Their Corn-Law, considering what they have now become, and what England has now become, is perhaps the fatallest-looking platitude any class of mortals utters in our day. It goes on the tacit hypothesis that they created all this land of England; that we, twenty-six million lacklands, are to be very thankful if they will let us bring wheat out of it on any terms whatever! They force every thinking soul in this Empire to ask himself, Did they create it? The fatallest of all questions, as matters stand; which should never be asked at all till the inevitable latest moment!— If any Peel or body of Peels can find that course ultimately prosper with them, they will have outdone all gods and devils. No: they may beat people in County Elections; but they cannot beat the Laws of Nature; these, I bet, will prove too hard for them.—

—Meanwhile, it seems the Hon. Mrs Stanley and her Ladies sat in the Jury Box, wearing her Husband's colours; apparently even more interested than he. You then, I find, retired to the front of the Court House and sat in open carriages. The Editor asserts that for beauty and grace, nothing could be admirabler. This also I can partly believe,—tho' it would have been as satisfactory perhaps had one been there and seen!— Pray tell me, at any rate, what the result of Thursday was.

As for me, I am here till the 26th of this current month; I then withdraw for four weeks of bathing to a little crib of a Cottage, in a lonely part of the beach of the Solway Frith; the designation of it, “Newby, Annan, N.B.” The noble Cumberland mountains lie in front, divided from one by the multitudinous elegiac music of the everlasting Sea. I am to walk silent there; uttering hardly any word;—meditating for the good of mankind; especially for the sanity of my own poor soul. My Wife with her maid is to be there; all other creatures, remote. The Steeple of the place where I got my Schooling is within view; but nothing worth conversing with except the Sea only.

After those four weeks, which bring us towards the end of August, my history again becomes indistinct: prophecy utters nothing, or only this, that I then vanish “into unknown space,” and shall probably have reappeared at Chelsea a good while before you turn thitherward again.

And so adieu, dear Mrs Stanley. Good be with you all among the woods of Alderley. Tell me in any way how this Election has gone, and I will not trouble you with another syllable for six months or more.

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle