July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO KARL ALEXANDER ; 29 December 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471229-TC-KA-01; CL 22: 185-186


Chelsea, London, 29 decr, 1847

Royal Highness,

I have, this day, had the honour to receive from Weimar a very kind Note, enclosing an Autograph of Goethe;1 for which permit me to return my thankful acknowledgement. Autographs of Goethe I already had; but one sent to me in this manner I may justly treasure among my valuables and memorables.

The Visit your Royal Highness was pleased to honour me with, still lives, with all vividness, in my remembrance, as it may naturally do. Apart from other considerations, to see face to face, in my pilgrimage thro' this world, the Descendent of Friedrich the Wise and of Karl August,—of Luther's Protector in the era of the Reformation, and of Goethe's in the era of the Sansculottes,—could not be other than interesting. Not many royal men can achieve such acts as these were, in the World's History; fewer and fewer royal men, as the Ages grow ever more dilapidated, bewildered and unheroic. “Blasen ist nicht Flöten, To blow is not to play on the flute,” says Goethe in this Autograph: no; and, alas, the most, in our days, cannot even “blow”!—

If your Royal Highness be pleased to retain some benevolence for me, surely I shall feel much honoured. Might I be permitted also to commend myself, with humble respects, to a High Lady, whom I was once near seeing, but (in the evil time) did not see; in whom, if all testimony lie not, I might have reverenced a still noble Daughter of the Old Heroes.2

I have the honour to be / Your Royal Highness's

much obliged and most Obedient

Thomas Carlyle