April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO J. P. ECKERMANN ; 2 August 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480802-TC-JPE-01; CL 23: 84-85


Chelsea, London, 2 Augt 1848—

Dear Eckermann,—About ten days ago I safely received your Third Volume of Gespräche [Conversations]; and have read it, I and others, with very great satisfaction. Many thanks to you, in my own name, for this mark of your continued friendliness, thanks too, in the name of the world, for such a memorial of things really memorable,—new traits in the character and habits of a man whom many ages will remember, and of which, but for you, there might have been no record. It does my heart good to get again into company with Goethe, and to live a little while with him again, and hear him “tho' dead yet speaking.”1 You need not be anxious about the reception of your Book; I believe I can safely promise it a long and honourable life among Books;—likely to be alive, I should say, when the Frankfort Parliament, and Louis-Philippe, and the Reichsverweser himself are pretty much forgotten!2 It seems to me admirably done,—with infinite loyalty, simplicity, clearness; a little Book full of what I call “inarticulate genius,” which after all is better than most of the articulate kinds. In fact I love it very much; and have had no pleasanter bit of reading these many months and years.3— The scenes that turn on Natural History, on the habits of Birds &c, reveal to me a great wealth in you (of which I think Marshall also spoke),4 which really you should think of turning to farther account in the Literary way. Let the world also share in your beautiful communion with Nature, with the mute Tribes of the Living! Nothing is more universally interesting; as indeed it may well be: a silent practical worship and recognition of this universe; most welcome in these loud days of mouth-worship and sham-recognition! Do you know a little English Book we have, called White's Natural History of Selborne?5 It should be in the Duke's Library: if it be not accessible, tell me, and I will get it sent to you. You should do something like it for your own corner of Germany; you really should. It is one of our most excellent Books; White, a quiet country Parson, has preached a better sermon here than all the loud Bishops that then were. Think of it, I pray you.— — By the bye, speaking of Bishops, I found one passage where you speak of our “Bishop of Derby,” of which I could make nothing! We have no Bp of Derby, nor ever had. However, the error on investigation turns out to be but of one letter: write “Bishop of Derry” (Londonderry in Ireland), and then it will all answer, and the “Lord Bristol” too, strange as he looks.6 His Lordship really had been a Bishop, or perhaps still was; the interview must have been during the Peace of Amiens,7 probably in 1802, for the poor man died next summer, aged 70,—ein alter Narr [an old fool], it would seem; one of a multitude!

Your intelligence about the Faust manuscript was altogether shocking to me! I directly transmitted your Note to the Ritter Bunsen, with due stringency of request to have some light thrown on the business,—to have, if nothing else could be got, the manuscript returned at least. Rr. Bunsen made no answer hitherto, and indeed I now learn that he has been recalled to Berlin, and is already there, probably in some post of consequence: nevertheless I confidently