1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO ALEXANDER HERZEN; 13 April 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550413-TC-AHE-01; CL 29: 288-289


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea 13 April, 1855—

Dear Sir,

I have read your eloquent Discourse on Russian revolutionary matters;1 which manifests a potent spirit, and high talent, in various respects; and in which, especially, there is a tone of tragic earnestness not to be mistaken by the reader, nor to be judged lightly by him, whatever else he may think of your program and prophecy as to Russia and the world.

For my own share I confess I never had, and have now (if it were possible) less than ever, the least hope in “Universal Suffrage” under any of its modifications: and, if it were not that in certain deadly maladies of the body politic, a burning crisis may be considered as beneficent, I should much prefer Tzarism itself, or Grand-Turkism itself, to the sheer Anarchy (as I reckon it sadly to be) which is got by “Parliamentary Eloquence,” Free Press, and counting of heads. “Ach! mein lieber Sulzer, Er kennt nicht diese verdammte Race!” said Frederick of Prussia once;2 and it is a sad truth he expresses there. In your vast Country,—which I have always respected as a huge dark “Birth of Providence,” the meanings of which are not yet known—there is evident, down to this time, one talent in which it has the preeminence, giving it potency far beyond any other Nation: the talent (indispensable to all Nations and all creatures, and inexorably required of them all, under penalties), the talent of obeying,—which is much out of vogue in other quarters just now! And I never doubt, or can doubt, but the want of it will be amerced to the last due farthing, sooner or later; and bring about huge bankruptcies, wherever persevered in. Such is my sad creed in these revolutionary times.

In spite of all these discrepancies, it will give me real pleasure if you will call some day when you are in town; nor am I myself without hope of finding out Cholmondeley Lodge3 in some of my walking excursions; and enjoying there once more a little talk with an estimable man of sense, which is always a pleasure to me.4

With many kind regards and good wishes, I remain,

Yours very sincerely

T. Carlyle.