July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO KARL AUGUST VARNHAGEN VON ENSE ; 5 November 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471105-TC-KAVE-01; CL 22: 146-147


Chelsea, London, 5 Novr, 1847—

My dear Sir,

It is a long time since I heard from you; a long time since I wrote to you,—a still longer indeed; so that, however I may regret, there is no room for complaining: it is my own blame! Your last Letter found me in Yorkshire; wandering about the Country, as I long continued to do, in the brightest Autumn weather; I did not get the Schiller Book into actual possession till my return home, some little while ago;1 when I found there had a second volume also arrived: Many kind thanks to you for such a Gift. For its own worth, and for sake of the Giver, it is right welcome to me. I finished the second volume last night; my most interesting Book for many months past: in great haste, I send you forthwith a word of hearty acknowledgement;—in great eagerness for the Sequel too! The Book does not say who is Editor; have not you yourself perhaps some hand in it? Whoever the Editor may be, the whole world is bound to thank him. Never before did one see Schiller; the authentic homely Prose Schiller, out of whom the Hero Schiller, as seen in Poetry and on the Public Stage hitherto, had to fashion himself and grow! And truly, as you say, they are one and the same. For the veracity, and real unconscious manliness of this poor hungry Schiller of Prose, fighting his battle with the confusion of the world, are everywhere admirable! No cant in him, no weak sentimentalism; he has recognised the rugged fact in all its contradictoriness; looks round, with rapid eager eye, upon his various milk-cows of finance, “This one will yield me so much, That so much, and I shall get thro' after all!”—and is climbing towards the Ideal, all the while, by an impulse as if from the Gods. Throughout I recollected that Portrait you sent me;2 with its big jaws, loose lips, hasty eager eyes,—all as in loose onset and advance, “Forward! Forward!”— Poor Schiller, there is something that one loves extremely in that ragged careless aspect of him; true to the very heart: a veritable Brother and Man! Körner too I hear universally recognised as a Tüchtiger [Able person]; full of sense, of friendly candour and fidelity: it is rarely that one reads such a Correspondence between two modern men. Thanks to you all for giving it to us; thanks to you individually for sending it me at once.

I would fain send you some news of myself; but alas, that is a very waste Chapter, not fit for entering upon, today! I have no work on hand that can be named; I feel only that the whole world of England, of Europe, grows daily full of new meanings, which it well beseems all persons of intelligence to try if they can read and speak. For the rest, I am very solitary; by choice and industry, keep solitary: the world here, especially the world of “Literature” so-called, is not my world. In fact I begin very greatly to despise the thing they call “Literature,”—and to envy the active Ages that had none of it. A waste Sea of vocables: what salvation is there in that? Ranke's failure does not surprise me:3 if I were a Prussian, or even German, I would decidedly try Friedrich.4— Adieu, my dear Sir: be kind, and write again soon. Yours ever truly,

T. Carlyle