1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO RICHARD MONCKTON MILNES; 1 March 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18540301-TC-RMM-01; CL 29: 34-35


Chelsea, 1 March, 1854—

Dear Milnes,

I wish you would tell me something definite about that grand Proposal of manning the Civil Service by persons chosen according to their merit?1 Or if you know little or nothing about it, will you (for my sake and your own) make some precise inquiries in the proper quarter; and pause again in your riding, some day soon, to tell me how it stands with that matter. I really am much interested about it; and can find nobody to give me information that will amount to anything. Certainly there never was in my time such a “Reform” set on foot as this same might be; a thing worth all other “reforms” put together; and indeed practically inclusive of all (for there is no other wanted, or even conceivable, according to my notions); and I confess I would not exchange the right attempt at this, for all the ballot boxes, or want of ballot boxes, in the world; which latter entities (with their franchises, beer-barrels, hustings oratory &c &c) have, after long sinking, quite reached zero many years ago with me.

I can foresee endless difficulties in the execution of such an attempt: but the attempt is great, salutary, and I believe indispensable: your Chancellor of the Exchequer, or whoever it is that has charge of, must in no wise abandon it for difficulties; let him persist in Heaven's name and England's; gradually all good citizens, all wise men, will rally to him, and he will have begun a new epoch in English History, and done a service required by God and man!2

In short, come to me again soon, and give your wisest account of all that, not to speak of other things. I am here daily till 3½ p.m.

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle