January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO C. K. J. BUNSEN ; 17 May 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430517-TC-CKJB-01; CL 16: 168-169


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea 17 May, 1843—

Dear Mr Bunsen,

Accept many thanks for your kind and wise word about my poor questionable Berserk of a Book!1 You answer with calm light and recognition where there is, along with the insight and veracity, so much wrath and smoke. It is a clear reflex of my meaning, from a most friendly intelligence;—a far worthier response than I could look for in such a case. Many thanks to you;—and may the Supreme Power turn many a thing, both in England and in Deutschland, to better use than we have cause to dread at present! “The Devil invented Must”:2 that is a fact I shall try not to forget.

My Brother is in Scotland, safe beside our good old Mother there; and seems to be nearly stationary; imprisoned, I suppose, by the ever-active rains and mud. He meant to go to Edinburgh, and see the venerable old Kirk suicide herself in these days,—like a noble old Kirk, accepting death rather than dishonour; a highly tragic operation:3 but the time is unpropitious, and John, it seems, is not to be here4 to witness. He told me of the Icelandic Grammar: whenever it does arrive, will you be so kind as forward it direct by the Parcels Company: I can read Danish now; I have got a Nial's Saga in Icelandic, and know where to borrow a Rask's Dictionary; I want only the Grammar to begin reading.5 What a poor fellow was Agamemnon, was good Achill[es], to many of these unsung forgotten Scandinavians: vate caruerunt sacro!6 I find sermons on “Silence” wherever I go or stand in this world.

You are very kind to offer me such a “Coffeehouse”! I am seldom in your quarter7 early, or indeed at all, of late months; but I will try to call some morning and find you. Will Madam Bunsen accept my sincere respects, and acknowledgements for her remembrance of me, the official Proof of which arrived here shortly before your Note.8 We have unluckily a sort of general engagement here ourselves to be at home on Wednesday Evenings: nevertheless I do speculate on some attempt at escaping towards you on occasion.

With many true wishes and regards, Yours always /

T. Carlyle