August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO JOHN STRACHEY ; 13 September 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570913-TC-JSTR-01; CL 33: 80-81


Chelsea, 13 Septr, 1857–

Dear Strachey,

I am very glad to hear of the pleasant event that has taken place in your family; and much obliged by your kindness in notifying it to me. I hope the little fellow will grow up to be a credit to his kindred and country,—and perhaps be heard of to his advantage, in England and the East, as his ancestors have been!1

The East is not at all a pleasant place at present, since you left it; I have often thought how fatally soon your worst prognostications of it, that evening, have verified themselves!2 I cannot bear to read those inhuman details in the Newspapers, nor do I love in the least the spirit in whh the English People mainly have taken it up. To punish the Sepoys, and mince them all to pieces &c &c:3 it were far better if the English People thought of punishing themselves for the very great folly they have manifested there,—and indeed I grieve to think, in nearly all departments of their affairs lately,—whereby such results have become possible, had become inevitable. People only weary me assigning “Causes”;—I seek, at present, no farther than the uppermost cause: An Army commanded for 50 years by imaginary Captains;—probably the most conspicuously portentous Entity the Sun can look down upon; and capable of fermenting into results of any required degree of hideousness, against a given (tho' unknown) day. The English Army generally, in India and elsewhere, has to me in these late years (whilst I have been reading about real Armies) been a subject of endless wonder, deep and far from joyful. England thinks herself the “wisest nation of the world” quite as a settled truism, not worth asserting: England will, before long, become less conspicuously the most blockhead Nation in the world, or India will not be the last ill news she hears! In fact, I am grieved and miserable about these things;—and have no resource but to banish them wholly out of my head, and to think of my own work while I have any.

My Wife came home, Wedy last, from a Two-months in Scotland, undertaken for health's sake,—evidently not without some profit that way. I have been grinding along here, and shall be, without interval, for a period alarming to think of.— Do not neglect us when you come to Town again.

With best regards to the young Mother, I am always,

Yours sincerely T. Carlyle