April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO HENRY M'CORMAC ; 16 May 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480516-TC-HM-01; CL 23: 29-30


Chelsea, London, 16 May 1848—

Dear Sir,

I have read your Observations on Tenant-Right, with much approval so far as I can understand the matter; thanks to you for sending this Pamphlet, and for the other friendly things you express to me.

It is greatly to be desired that persons of sense and veracity of mind, acquainted with Irish Agriculture and the nature of things, should consult with all earnestness as to what is now to be done with that unhappy land and people! Evidently there is nothing wanted but a good and just discernment as to this; for if land and people could be brought into the true relation to one another, it seems admitted that there are ample resources there for them all; that there need not be, at this hour, one idle man in Ireland who could handle his spade or hoe, and was willing to work. It is a tremendous reflexion that this should be the possible fact, and that the actual one is what we see!

I think it a pity the Ld Lieutenant himself,1 or some other eminent man or body of men in Ireland, did not very soon call together, by his own summons, a competent number of Practical Rational Persons, such as you, from all quarters of Ireland,—a real “Irish Parliament,” and Convocation of the Notables;—and (carefully excluding every Newspaper Reporter, and binding every member to strict discretion or even silence as to what shd be said there), ask them, in the name of God that made us all, and bade us all be just and wise, not iniquitous, negligent and mad, What can be done to bring these famishing Irishmen into contact with that fruitful uncultivated or miscultivated Irish land? Can nothing be done? Does human ingenuity, which has invented steamships and found out the law of the Stars, quite fail in this limited terrestrial problem? I will not believe it;—it must be human courage only, and human determination to justice, that fails!— We are getting into fearful conditions on this side of the Water too, if nothing be done. The Streets of London itself are getting studded with Irish Beggars more thickly every day; presenting the “Irish Problem,” which no Legislator will take up, to the British Community at large with intimation that they must either solve it, or sink along with it to worse than death!—

Believe me, / Dear Sir,

Yours sincerely

T. Carlyle