« AnteriorContinuar »
your brother's letter from Monck, at any time when your leisure serves, will be another favour to me.
I do not recollect to have elsewhere fallen in with this document. What the old close-mouthed horsedealer of a general saw good to write to Richard Crom. well in 1658 or 9 cannot but be curious to me! Mrs. Strachey I was sorry to find suffering somewhat under our bitter east wind; I myself have fallen under the same bad influence, or I should have called a second time.
With kind remembrances to Mrs. Hare, with many thanks to yourself, I remain always, yours sincerely,
The close-mouthed horsedealer's letter is still in the possession of Mr. Sholto Hare, who informs me that it was addressed to Richard Cromwell soon after the Protector's death. It recommends the appointment of certain sheriffs of counties, colonels of regiments, and captains of warships, and serves to show how, in conjunction with Fairfax and the Loyalist clergyman, the Rev. Edward Bowles [an ancestor of the Hare family], Monck was preparing to work for the restoration of Charles II.
The said letter to Mrs. Cromwell from the Protector, which is dated the day after the battle of Dunbar, bore three seals, whose juxtaposition suggested problems of authenticity and date on which Mr. Sholto Hare in after years consulted Carlyle, who answered thus:
Chelsea, 24 November, 1853. I am very sorry I cannot form the smallest guess as to the motto on those two seals of your Oliver letter. One thing seems evident: they were not put there by Oliver; the third seal will alone be his, and the other two must have been appended by some subsequent possessor of the letter. By whom, or with what intention, can only be matter of the vaguest conjecture; but Oliver himself, we may be as good as certain, sealed only once, especially on that occasion, and by so sure a conveyance.
"Faithful subject of the King, and palladium (salus) of the kingdom”: these words might have been, in the language of flattery, till some three years before, a description of Oliver himself, in the dialect of the time ; but now (in 1650), there is no “king” nor "kingdom ”; it must have been an obsolete seal (signet ring or the like), probably applied long afterwards by Mrs. Cromwell, or we know not what possessor of the letter, in finally repositing the same.
For the test, I have no considerable skill in such matters, having seen very few of Oliver's seals, and that only by accident, while looking for other objects.
What you say of Penn's grave is very interesting, but I have little personal love for that heavy vain blockhead, in spite of his merits in several respects, and will not trouble you at present on that score.
With kind regards to your brother and his lady, if they have not quite forgotten me, I remain in haste,
Allusions to the progress of the Cromwell appear in Carlyle's correspondence with his Clifton friend, Mrs. Strachey. In a letter to her, dated November 23rd, 1844, he writes
I am exceedingly busy; fishing up, out of the depths of brutallest Human stupidity, washing clean and making legible, the letters and speeches of Oliver Cromwell, a heroic man buried in such an element of mud and darkness as few Heroes ever were. It is an infinitely ugly kind of drudgery; I know no man living whom Stupidity and Brutality do more disgust than me: but it seems a kind of duty lying on the like of me; I say "He fought ; thy poor trade is but to speak ; speak then for him." Happily this branch of the business is now almost done : we must then try others, which, if still harder work, offer work a little more inspiring. I begin to be much disaffected to the whole business of books; and often think, if I had once done with this, I will never write another.
A copy of the Cromwell, inscribed with the name of his old Shooter's Hill protectress, reached Clifton shortly before her death. The matchless letter called forth by that occurrence, in which he speaks of Mrs. Strachey as "the oldest and dearest friend I anywhere had in the world," did not exhaust his grief, or his sympathies with her children in their loss. Writing six months later, to my eldest brother, Carlyle said :
Chelsea, 10 May, 1847. The melancholy message which reached me last winter has not, even yet, produced its whole effect on me! New days and events turn up ever new remembrances, sad and sacred. I had not, and cannot again expect to have any other such a friend. Her life was a noble struggle ; and it has ended_has left us still to struggle, yet a little further. Inexorable Time sweeps on, all-producing, all-devouring, and they that are Departed return not to us any more.
Surely the remembrance of your noble mother will never leave me while I live in this world.
This was not the mere flattering language of a mortuary inscription. Alluding to Mentone, in the Reminiscences Carlyle calls the Riviera and its Chelsea visitor, “ all earth Paradise, inhabitant a kind of semi-Satan.” That work is not overmuch pervaded by the temper of heaven, but as soon as the semi-Satan evokes the magic of the mistress of Shooter's Hill he falls into the melting mood. Always faithful to her memory, he draws her portrait in these touching superlatives : “To this day, long
years after her death, I regard her as a singular pearl of a woman; pure as dew, yet full of love ; incapable of inveracity to herself or others.”
The more vivid of my own earlier recollections of Carlyle include an incident connected with the Hero-Worship which occurred one evening in Cheyne Row, where I called during the leisure of a Cambridge vacation. Among the topics discussed on that occasion was a murder, which, though De Quincey would hardly have classed it with the fineart performances of Mr. Williams, was the theme of general discussion at the time. In the course of our conversation, Carlyle expressed positive sympathy with the murderer, Rush, not, of course, as condoning his crime, but because the criminal had proved himself to be "a strong man,” and, so far, superior to the average “poor weak funkey” of contemporary Britain. A dumb witness to the truth of this lies on my table. Contrary to Carlyle's advice to me, not to augment the inevitable weariness of the flesh by purchasing books, I had accumulated a small library, which included a set of his own works bound by Wheeler of Oxford—the equal in tooling and superior in lettering of Hayday and Rivière-in a style which would almost have qualified them for a place on the shelves of Grolier or Madame de Pompadour. They have survived many vicissitudes of time, travel, and climate, and in the volume HeroWorship, beneath the final “ Lecture VI., the Hero as King,” on the page with the table of contents, may be read my pencil in memoriam written shortly afterwards:
Lecture VII., the Hero as Murderer, James Bloomfield Rush, T.C., April 20th, 1849.
This affair had an absurd echo. A few weeks later, a Clifton clergyman of the ultra-Evangelical school wrote to Carlyle, inquiring categorically whether, as rumoured in those parts, he had spoken of the demon Rush as deserving not the gallows, but the esteem of mankind. The suspicions of Cheyne Row attached to me as the delator probably in fault, and on my next visit I was reprimanded for my supposed indiscretion in giving circulation to remarks not intended to reach the ears of bigots and fools. The realities of the business were never investigated, but the story having travelled back to Clifton, the ecclesiastic in question incurred some local ridicule for his absurd behaviour. Carlyle's observations on Rush may have been partly jocular ; but they flowed from his Doctrine of Force, and language not very unlike that
just reported was drawn from him by the account of the execution of Baranelli, an assassin of a lower calibre and a later time.
The virtue which Lessing called a fine weakness—I mean patriotism —found very little room in the hearts of Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle. They were not patriotic in what would now be called the Imperialistic sense, and they had none of the burning particularistic love of Burns and Scott for their restricted fatherland. During the Crimean War they were in flat opposition to the popular sentiment. They respected the Emperor Nicholas.as a putative strong man, possessing some of the fibres of the hero as king, and, as we read in Hero. Worship, doing a great feat in keeping Russia together with his bayonets, Cossacks, and cannons. Then, "the unspeakable Turk” was their abhorrence, and they loathed " the scandalous copper captain," Napoleon the Third, against whom Carlyle would rave without intervallums, designating him “a dark knave.” In these circumstances, they hardly desired success for our arms, and just as Charles James Fox raised his war-whoop over the disasters of Saratoga and Yorktown--just as Sir William Molesworth expressed the hope that the Canadian insurgents might beat the Guards -so our Chelsea friends refused to take the national view of the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava, or of the capture of the war-steamer Tiger. At the time of the departure of the allied fleets for the Baltic, there appeared in Fraser a detailed description of Cronstadt, written by a young diplomatist, which was followed by papers on the Russian army and similar matters, then, even to "well-informed circles," a closely sealed book. These articles were approved by those in authority as being calculated to throw cold water on the prevalent belief that the walls of Cronstadt and Sebastopol would fall down under the first broadsides of the ships of France and England, and the Muscovite Empire be "crumpled up” by faith in Mr. Cobden's famous dictum. The Commentaries of the new Vegetius were carefully studied by Carlyle, who had as genuine a love as M. Thiers, or as Harry Hotspur himself,
Of sallies and retires, of trenches, tents,
Of basilisks, of cannon, and of culverin. But another excursion by the same writer into war topics was less well received. The Tiger, having drifted beneath the cliffs of Odessa, was compelled to haul down her flag, and the details of her mishap and surrender were made public in a work by one of the officers of the
vessel, whose tone grated on feelings excited by patriotic neurosis. The narrative was reviewed (with much over-emphasis, no doubt) in a style which aroused the spleen of Cheyne Row, where the cudgels were warmly taken up on behalf of the captors, and, in particular for the Russian Commandant of Odessa, of whom the critic had not spoken with sufficient respect. The unknown delinquent, being one day assailed to his face by Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle in combination, thought fit to unfold himself. The avowal caused much momentary indignation, and a fire of arguments or asseverations was exchanged between the Czar's enemy and his Scotch allies. Soon that effusive and irrepressible lap-dog, Nero, observant of the fray, intervened with a bark between the combatants. This created a diversion, laughter ensued, and the incident was closed with the Horatian tu missus abibis.
A paragraph of Hero-Worship puts the question whether Shakespeare or India be the greater glory to our nation. In the characters and careers of our Asiatic proconsuls, in the military foundations of our rule, in the exercise of the government of the peninsula, not by Downing Street and the stump oratory of Sir Jabez Windbag and the Honourable Felicissimus Zero, but by “the divine Silences"_in these and other
, circumstances of its past and present, the Eastern dependency of Great Britain typified some of Carlyle's historical and political ideals. Members of the junior generation of our family, returning from Tibet, or from Rajpootana or Almora, or from the battlefields of Aliwal and Sobraon, were thus doubly welcome in Cheyne Row. In the spring of 1857, the year of the great Mutiny, my brother, Sir John Strachey, was spending an evening with the Carlyles, when there was much conversation about India. Although, at this time, no one foresaw the particular catastrophe which was near the horizon, there were certain mutterings of an approaching storm, and my brother had expressed in emphatic language his conviction of the utter rottenness of the native army. After the Mutiny broke out, a domestic incident had to be reported by my brother to Carlyle, whose congratulations on the event were conveyed in the appended letter, which refers in detail to the revolt of the troops, and gives his correspondent credit for his prophetic language of the previous spring :
Chelsea, 7 September, 1857. 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