The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO SARAH AUSTIN ; 17 February 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500217-TC-SA-01; CL 25: 26-27


Chelsea, 17 feby, 1850—

Dear Mrs Austin,

There was left for me, the other morning, a Parcel containing M. Guizot's new Work and your Translation of it,1—which I computed to be due to your kind remembrance of me, and accepted accordingly with all thankfulness, begging now to express the same in words by the first leisure I have. M. Guizot's notions on the English Revolution are not quite mine, in several important respects; but so serious, well-instructed and prominent a man is emphatically worth hearing on any subject that is so vital to him. I have read his Book, with respectful estimation and assent in many places, with respectful dissent in many others. A grave earnest man, full of iron resolution, and of a kind of cold stoical dignity which I am not insensible to, seeking his way thro' the Chaos that has come upon us and overset all paths and pavements: this is interesting to see. But it seems to me he looks at our English Affairs, after all his study, with unalterably French eyes;—I even detect Louis-Philippe2 spectacles here and there! On the whole, our English Puritans did believe in God and Jesus Christ and Eternal Justice, not merely in the Tradition of God and in Jean-Jacques3 and Progress of the Species and finally in Parliamentary Majorities; which really makes all the difference in the world. So that often I could say, with all my admiration of M. Guizot's clear precise insight and felicitous deliverance of the same, “Alas, here again is the Tragedy of Hamlet with the part of Ht omitted by particular desire!” M. Guizot's former Book on the Civil Wars,4 as I once told himself and still believe, is considerably the best narrative we yet have on those matters: but in the Second Part, if we are to have a second Part,5 he must actually learn to conceive a man, various men, to whom all the ‘successes’ and Parliamentary majorities in Nature wd seem as nothing compared with any violation of the will of Him who made Nature;—a kind of man that leads us into spheres of History very unusual indeed in these poor times! Thanks to the Author, however, to you especially, for all your gifts and goodnesses, many kind thanks.

I could not get out, that Thursday;6 we were all packed into a heap,—I wet too, by a ‘prevenient’ ride in the rain; and feeling like a cannon-ball fairly shot off, and incapable of pausing till it got home. But I do surely determine to come out expressly to Weybridge, and spend a day there till the last Train that will leave me at Wandsworth:7 and so soon as the Sun has got any steady mastery (about a fortnight hence perhaps), I will practically study the Railway Book, and see whether in fact it cannot be done, there and then.

My Wife sends many kind salutations, and joins with me in kind remembrances to Mr Austin in particular: and so, for auld lang syne, Dear Mrs A.—— Yours always T. Carlyle