January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO EDWARD STRACHEY ; 20 March 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430320-TC-ES-01; CL 16: 91-92


CHELSEA, Monday morning, March 20, 1843.

MY DEAR SIR—I wrote on Saturday to my Russian; he called yesterday with his answer. I, unfortunately, had gone out, and he had to leave it with my wife. Still more unfortunately, the answer itself proved to be entirely negative, and very little better than zero.

He does not think that there is on sale in any shop in London a single Russian book. Nobody learns the language here; a few English merchants about Petersburg are the only English persons that do. He knew of a teacher of Russian here at one time, but he could get hardly any shadow of encouragement, and after long struggling had to withdraw to Brighton, where probably he now is.

My Russian (probably a German merchant, and a most obliging man)1 is persuaded that there must be extant some kind of Russian-English grammar, Russian-English dictionary, for the use of the St. Petersburg English clerks, if no otherwise, but he himself is entirely ignorant of any. The like as to Russian-French, though probably the hope is greater on that side. This is all that he knows. For the rest, he will “send to St. Petersburg” for me, “send to Paris,” do all that a zealous man can do. If you think, in these circumstances, it is worth while prosecuting such an outlook, pray entrust me, and I will most cheerfully employ this gentleman, who, I think, will like to be employed by me. If your brother be determined to learn Russian,2 it might be possible for him, but such books as we are like to get will almost infallibly be bad, and the difficulties will be greatly increased thereby. They can be got, it seems, by sending to St. Petersburg, and St. Petersburg can be sent to.

I am afraid I shall not get so far eastward to-day as to see you again this time.3 Let us hope you will return before long. Pray take care of yourself; keep up and encourage the improvement you are already making; exercise and regimen, not medicine or doctors.4 And so Good speed you.

Will you offer my affectionate remembrances to your mother,5 whom I will always reckon among my chosen ones? May Good be with you and yours.

I remain, my dear sir,

Yours with true good wishes, /