The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO ARTHUR HUGH CLOUGH ; 29 December 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18521229-TC-AHC-01; CL 27: 380-382


Chelsea, 29 decr, 1852—

Dear Clough,

Your pleasant, luminous and wholesome little Note reached me duly a few days ago; with friendly welcome, interest, and thankfulness, on my part. I am very glad indeed to hear of your safe arrival, and outlooks of modest progress, in those Transatlantic regions: the Note gives me light not only on that principal matter; but communicates, in outline, some real traits of the physiognomy of Yankeeland, more pertinently characteristic, and visible to the mind, than I have got out of certain deliberate volumes read by me before now.

There seems no doubt but your extremely moderate expectations will be realized to the full in your new arena: plenty of pupils, I can well fancy, and in general “more elbow-room” than a poor unprotected male, with no public stamp of orthodoxy clapt upon him, but rather with the reverse, can expect to fall in with in this country. Be diligent in business,—volto sciolto, bocca stretta [open visage, closed mouth],1 as a general rule;—do your very best; and fear nothing. If I might venture to add another precept, tho' I know not that it is or ever was necessary in your case, I would say: Be careful of all the cash you gain;—and come home to us, next summer, with the largest stock of ammunition you can!2 But, at any rate, do not neglect to come; unless your outlooks where you are be brighter there than one expects, or than they hitherto are. We have a Change of Ministry now, grand “Coalition,” with Whig elements, Peel do in still greater abundance, and a severe old Lansdown presiding (tho' without power) in her Majesty's Cabinet Council!3 Seriously, after joy at the downfall of Houndsditch Stump-oratory and dishonest merchandise of ou' clo' [old clothes] (of a particular kind), such gleam of joy as beseemed every British Man, it was my first thought, Here is a Reform Govt again, pledged to “Liberalism,” to “Progress” and what not; here is a hope for us of recovering Clough from his exile! I do not know what basis there may be in such speculation; but there is no doubt your old friends do remain attached to you,—and the road, such as it was, may be considered open again. Keep this in your eye. You have already some connexions in the Privy-Council Education line, I think;—and there is no doubt at all but they (and we) ought to wish very much for service such as you could render if once set under way! I delivered your compliment to Lady Ashburton, as directed;4 and had such a response as would have well satisfied you, had you heard it. There is no falsity in that quarter at all, and much more of solidity, insight, and faithful perseverance, than a first aspect wd indicate to every one.5

Milnes has got no place in the new Distribution;—thousands have got none, especially Whigs; and the discontents up to this date are innumerable. They must compose themselves; for it is a law of Nature. As there is but one solar-system, and as each man (if we will consider) could eat it all, if the Fates allowed, and cram it all into his own single stomach, what chance is there of “satisfying everybody”? Don't they wish they may get it?— A certain grim triumph, greatly preferable in comparison, rises in the heart of a man who, honestly at last, can claim of the God WISH, and of his ravenous fellow-bipeds of mankind—Nothing. Which indeed is approximately possible, in certain circumstances. “Ich hab' mein' sach' auf NICHTS gestellt / Drum gehts mir leidlich in der weltJuchhe, juchheisa!6 So sings the very blackguard (in Goethe), once he has been sufficiently beaten by the stripes of Experience. The Duke of Argyll is in the Cabinet; of which I, unlike several others that I see, am rather glad: the smallest of all the Maccallum mores,7 in bodily stature if not otherwise, is this one; but he has a pair of stern strong blue eyes, an ingenious, ingenuous kind of face, under his red flamy head of hair; and shews a seriousness of aim, which greatly distinguishes him among those of his class. What is perhaps still more stupendous, Ld John (it is whispered) does design now to “liberate the Jews,”—good Heavens, dare we believe that the Millennium is so near! His Lordship (it appears farther) will “go out in six weeks,” making room for Ld Clarendon,—being in only for honour's sake at present (to be on a par with Palmerston, and shew himself and the world that he is so);8 after whh he will merely “lead the Commons,” and visit Houndsditch with healing under his wings.9— We have got black dolls now, thanks to Uncle Tom's Cabin;—however, the mania, which had become too absurd, is visibly subsiding.10 What next, O two-legged Herd of Gadarenes-swine,11 with elevated tails, loud throats, and teeth dangerous to any beneficent herdsman that might interfere!—

I have been very low and poorly, in the black wet weather we have had, almost ever since you went away. Getting home from The Grange was sinking finally to the solid bottom: after such tourings and tumults, such a depth of collapse as I had not known for years. By virtue of the strictest retirement, strictest silence in all kinds, I am getting much better. Adieu, dear Clough: I wish (turn to margin)12 you right heartily well; and shall hope to hear good news of you again by and by,—especially if I can ever help you in anything. Best regards to Emerson. Yours ever truly T. Carlyle