August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO C. K. J. BUNSEN; 29 June 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470629-TC-CKJB-01; CL 21:244-245.


Chelsea, 29 june, 1847—

My dear Sir,

The Weimar Secretary gives me to understand, as his unhesitating tho' private opinion, That even £50 for the Goethe Autograph would be a greater benefit to Eckermann than a mere failure in the negociation.1 Magnanimous Eckermann has indeed written to the Secretary (who read me his Letter) That, at the bottom of his heart, he was glad Lord Ellesmere had not purchased the sacred Paper; that it was too sacred to be sold; that, in fine, the Secretary must give it—to Carlyle, who would keep it, and transmit it to posterity, with the due devotion! This magnanimous catastrophe, of course, both Carlyle and the Secretary have at once rejected; hopeful still that some act of beneficence might be done to poor Eckermann in lieu thereof.

We farther agree that if anybody will keep this Paper, it ought to be the King of Prussia; he, the actual or virtual King of Germany, before all others. But it appears there is one thing to be very specially noted; namely that his Majesty has already done some kindness to Eckermann,—some Gift, a year or two ago, on solicitation of Von Humboldt:2 and it is left to your benevolence and sagacity to judge, Whether, by any skill in making the application you so kindly proposed, all danger of doing Eckermann a mischief on this side, either with the Baron3 or the King, could be avoided? He knows nothing of any such application: but would that fact, and the distinct statement of it, be enough? On the whole, it is left wholly to you, and to the Genius of Charity in you: what you decide shall be good and best, for me and others.

Meanwhile, as the Weimar Hoheiten [Highnesses] are about departing, I should feel much obliged by some decision, between this and Friday,—by getting back the Autograph, if that is to be the decision;—so that I might wind the matter up before they go. Not hearing from you hitherto, I infer that nothing hitherto has proved possible: but perhaps you have still some hope to give me for the poor Hero-worshipper? I understand, Eckermann is now almost the only thoroughgoing Goethe-Freund to be found in Germany!—

I ought to make many apologies for bothering a King's Ambassador with this small matter: but to Eckermann, a worthy Son of Adam too, it is great;—bigger than Silesia to Friedrich perhaps: and the Seven-Years War itself was small to the Gods!4— — With many kind regards and thanks,

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle