January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO THOMAS STORY SPEDDING ; 26 June 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420626-TC-TSS-01; CL 14: 209-210


Chelsea, 26 june 1842—

Dear Spedding,

Tho' I dwell within a mile or two of the great Premier, and might see the face of him any evening by walking up to his House of Commons, it is doubtful, for all that, whether I am any nearer him than you.1 Nay some suspect that by clutching his very button, or even taking him by the forelock, and bidding him speak or die, you would still get little nearer him,—for that in fact, he is a Cagliostro, and has his residence in the extensive country of NOWHERE (not without neighbours); or, in plainer words, floats and hovers as a mere Hypothesis, Expediency, and distressed Noah's Raven,2 studious to descry on what floating carrion he may alight for moments, till the Deluge swallow him and it as late as possible! From no man, Peel nor Anti-Peel, do I hear the smallest whisper of any plan for dealing with the evil day which has at length come upon us. I suppose the people will revolt, not willing to die like Hindoos; and the Government will order out dragoons. A Chartist Parliament, not far in the rear of that, seems likeliest to many: Peel will swiftly thereupon have no difficulty in pointing out a “peculiar burden” or two lying upon land! A Chartist Parliament or any form of Democracy is, with me, equivalent to Anarchy, and what the Yankees call “Immortal Smash” the Chartist Parliament, as all Parliaments at any rate are very diligently doing, having once altogether discredited itself, there enters some kind of Cromwell (would to God we had him!), drives them out with bayonets a posteriori [from the rear],3—and we are at sea on the widest Chaos, with “supply and demand” for a nautical time-keeper, and the “Greatest Happiness of the greatest number”4 for a pole-star! So sings the Sibyl.— —

Seriously speaking I do not like to look at the state of England. I can predict nothing of it except that in all likelihood great and long-continued miseries are at no large distance from us. For, as I say in the old dialect, not yet speaking readily any other, All men rich and poor, have forgotten for several generations that there is any GOD in this universe,—except perhaps some wretched shovel-hatted5 simulacrum, worse than no God,—and we find now at last, what all mortals in all times have at last found, that such godless hypothesis of the universe is not true, that the universe managed in that way becomes unmanageable,—and we, with our expediency, our supply and demand, our greatest happiness principle, and other melancholy stomach-philosophy, are greater asses than they that believed in witch-craft were! Ah me, the Scotch people say of this or the other man, “Thou wouldst do little for God, if the Devil were Dead”:—and truly it is a kind of comfort to reflect that, at worst the Devil does never die; that always there are, at worst, general starvations, chartisms, French Revolutions, with guillotines and apparatus, that Quackery, if it will not disappear otherwise (which one seldom finds it do), may be burnt out of the way by hellfire!—

I dare not enter on another sheet; for indeed I am told Sterling is down stairs. Write to me again, and I will answer. And so adieu for this day; and good be with you all days.6

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle