April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO LORD ASHBURTON; 6 February 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490206-TC-LOA-01; CL 23: 224-227


Chelsea, 6 feby, 1849—

Dear Lord Ashburton,

On Sunday1 the sublime Mason had announced to me a Box of Cigars,

ordered to be sent, about which the way was to be enquired into: on Sunday Evening, after leaving you, I got the Box from his Excellency on the stairs; carried it home in my own hired democratic vehicle; and here it now is. A most acceptable, friendly and truly useful Gift. May your shadow never be less! The Cigars are of known excellence; such a quantity, of such a quality, may justly excite thankfulness in the narcotic mind. I shall often remember you, in my most meditative moments, for a long while to come.

Furthermore there arrived yesterday morning this Letter from Emerson; which I now inclose, hoping it may quicken the Drummond hunt after that lost £50, and speedily now lead to the capture of the same, here being the right scent for the hounds.2 American Hart, it would seem, has paid the money; Shipley & Co of Liverpool, who undertook to answer all comers on that subject, have, I suppose, never been applied to; and with them it rests. Pray stir in the matter; and let us get it conquered and ended. If the Draft be even lost, Hart of Philadelphia is still extant acknowledging the debt as due at that time; and if Shipley and Co have not paid to anybody, let them now pay it,—the Drummonds must be fully equal to saying how. And so let us despatch, and happily finish at length!

I enclose also, by way of literary specimen, a Letter that came from Squire yesterday; who a little shudders at the promise he made me in regard to Peterboro Cathedral;3—and is otherwise, as you will see, a man fit to set the Thames on fire by his power of hoaxing in the literary way!— On the whole, I decided that, for this Third Edition of Cromwell, I will not introduce the Squire Papers,4 or concern myself except from a safe distance with the Squire Affair at all; the new light produced by Squire is not of a pin's value for any object I specially had in view. O. Cromwell's character remaining precisely what it was in all points, whether Squire be real or be imaginary; and to raise a tempest of Dryasdust dubitations, etymologisings, riddle-ma-ree-ings, and foolish barking of all the dogs in the parish,5 about simply nothing whatever,—can be no part of the little enterprise I took in hand with respect to the great Memory of a Hero!— Alas, the stupidity (want of truth, and therefore of the source for truth) of human creatures generally in England, at this time, fatally manifests itself in all provinces of their existence,—from the Poodle's drains and upwards, to the Bishop of Dogbolt, Murphy's Almanac, Macaulay's History, and the Queen upon the Throne!6

Milnes has summoned for Thursday to his Museum Commission,7—where I think you also ought to be? Nay in fact you are wiser away. Good cannot be done with any Museum in such circumstances as ours, by such “commissions” from without. You must find a real Pilot to your ship, if you would have it prosper. Put a Sham Pilot on board, can any cackling, shouting, conniving and bellowing by speaking-trumpets from the shore, by assembled multitudes, ever bring it into harbour?8 “Beware of that rock! Quicksand ahead!” shout they; and the poor Sham-Pilot veers and whirls, awake only to the condition of his own ear-drum and his own skin, and never arrives anywhere, nor will, nor by the nature of things can arrive.— However, I must answer what they ask me, in the truest way I can; above all, in the quietest.

Today I will look after my Lady's Books; and have them despatched to their quarters: tell her so, and that I hope to report before your return. On Tuesday next, this day week, we are to go, my Wife and I, for three or four days into Surrey with A. Sterling (John's elder Brother): nothing there but a nice little country-house, horses, heaths, one old Scotch housemaid; and the blue sky which bends over all. I expect to get a little benefit from three days of nearly absolute silence, in these circumstances; being really somewhat considerably out of order just at present.— I cannot for you account it a happiness that you must leave the young buds, and nascent Spring green, for anything we have to offer you here: nevertheless you must;—and we for our part, we will try to make our bit of profit of it!— Good be about The Grange. Take the Lady to ride on Muff, with my respects.

Yours ever truly / T. Carlyle 9