candlestick

1852


The Collected Letters, Volume 27


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TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 5 September 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520905-TC-JWC-01; CL 27: 266-269


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE

Bonn, Sunday, 6 [5] Septr, 1852—

Thank thee very much, dear Jeannie, for the Letter of yesterday; which lay waiting to refresh me, in the afternoon, when I returned from my dusty labours in the Library here! It seemed to me the kindest I had got from you in this long while, almost like the old ones I used to get; and any Letter at all, so anxious and impatient had I grown, would have been right welcome. Be comforted, my poor little Goody; there has nothing gone wrong here; neither at Chelsea will these confusions last forever: I shall get my journeyings done, better or worse; the weary Morgan also will end; and by Heaven's blessing we shall get into our own little crypt again (where the human body can at least sleep), and if we are wise, we will stay there, I think!— But in truth, I ought rather to thank the Fates, I believe, than complain of them; for except the botherations and failures of sleep &c my journey has had nothing that was not pleasant and lucky hitherto. “Forward, forward!” that is the word; and Oh cease not to spur that lazy ass we have for Builder in Cheyne Row;—and get by some method or other the upper bedroom ready; where at least one's imagination beyond seas may solace itself with thinking of possible quiet, where, in practical fact, poor Goody herself may get a little Christian sleep, free from “foul creatures” and foreign Numbers 2.— — Alas, alas, I am losing my eyesight (sad symptom of bile) by stooping over this flat table; and must without circumbendibus write briefly what is indispensable.

I hoped Jack had fully explained how I found your missing letter next morning at Ecclefechan, and what a load of care it at once took from me: I perceived clearly you had done whatever was punctual and right in the affair. Alsop's pills unfortunately did not even then present themselves; only came next day, and now will never reach me at all: a circumstance whh John, writing to Neuberg, treats as perfectly indifft (there being “plenty of medicines in Germany”), tho' to me it would have been handier otherwise!— However, you could do no more; and all that was essential is successfully done. I wrote yesternight to Rotterdam for your other letter; and expect it the day after tomorrow. At Bonn here on my arrival there lay nothing for me except this Note from Lady Ashburton, enclosing the introductn from Ld A. to the Ambassador at Berlin,—not a first-rate comfort to me! I must & should acknowledge it today, if I can; but writing of all kinds in these sad biliary circumstances, with half-blind eyes, and stooping over low ricketty tables, is perfectly unpleasant to me. Not to mention that I hardly know what it is I am writing; and in short, cannot be expected to like such a job. Heigho!—

Well, but let me say I got beautifully up the Rhine; stuck by the river all day, all night; and, the next afternoon (the second after I had written to you), found Neuberg waiting here on the beach from1 me, and so got fairly out. Alas, at Rotterdam I had slept simply none at all, such was the force of noisy nocturnal travellers, neighbours snoring, and the most industrious cocks I ever heard! The Customhouse Officers too had spoiled the look of my portmanteau (which is now mended, better than ever), and on the whole I was in such a whirl of stormtost fluries2 and confusions:—God help me, wretched thinskinned mortal that I am, at 5 a.m. next morning I was in a precious humour to rise, and settle with unintelligible waiters, and German steamboat clerks, and get myself on any terms on board. On board I got, however; and the place proved infinitely better than I hoped; some approach to Christian food to be had in it, some real sleep even,—indeed the principal sleep I have yet had since friday gone a-week was 4 hours and again 4 hours, deep, deep, lying on the cabin sofas, amid the general noises, in that respectable vessel. I spoke German too, being the one Englishn on board; made agreeable acquaintances; one really nice Gröningen gentn, acquainted with England, who solemnly took leave of me, with a “Stet in memoriâ” [keep in memory] after our six hours of good companionship.— The Rhine, of a vile reddish drab colour, and all cut into a reticulary work of branches, flowing thro' an absolutely flat country lower than itself, was far from “beautiful”: about Rotterdam, and for a 50 miles higher; but it was highly curious and worth seeing once and away. A country covered with willows, bulrushes and wet woods; kept from drowning by windmill pumps: one looked with astonisht upon it, and with admiration at the invincible industry of man. Higher up (towards 4 p. m. of the first day) the river gets decidedly agreeable; and about Cologne 20 miles below this, a beautiful mountain-group (Sieben-gebirge, “the 7 hills,” see Neuberg's cross),3 which is still some 5 or 7 miles beyond us here, announces that the “Picturesque” is just going to enter on the scene,—much good may it do us! We had beautiful weather all the way, and yet have; but surely the most picturesque of all objects was that of Neuberg standing on the beach here, to take me out of all that puddle of foreign things, and put me down (as I hoped) in some place where I might sleep and do nothing else for several days to come.— Neuberg's kindness nothing can exceed; but as to the rest of it—as to sleep in particular, I find the hope to have been some what premature. Oh Heavens, I wonder if the Devil anywhere else ever contrived such beds and bedrooms as these same are! And 2 Cocks are industrious day and night under the back window; and I have had to shift into the front room whh looks out upon the highway— But upon the whole, I have slept everynight here, more or less, and am decidedly learning to do it; and Neuberg asserts that I shall become expert by and by. The grand thing is, to get my journey done, now that I am on it; a second journey, I trust, is not likely to follow soon.

Yesterday, as my first day's work, I went to the University Library here; found very many good books, unknown to me hitherto, on Vater Fritz; took down the titles of what, on inspection, promised to be useful; brought some 20 away with me,—and the plan at present is, that N. and I shall go with these to a rural place in these Siebengebirge, called Roland's Eck for one week, where sleep is much more possible, and then examine my 20 Books before going farther, and consider what is the best to be done farther. We go to look at it this day sunday at 2 o'clock,—an hour hence, ay de mi! The good Neuberg is meantime out towards Bonn,—to try for some pills to me (at a venture)! This “Coblenzer-Strasse” of his is not a street in the town at all but a row of scattered houses, built along half a mile of straight flat road leading to Coblenz, eastward and upward along the river,—the Coblenz road, in fact. Not nearly so nice as Comely Bank or Morningside;4 more like the level coach-road at Malvern: may I soon take leave of it, for a quieter region! Poor Ng with his Sister has only a furnished floor in the house, and that none of the best. But it is impossible for man to be kinder and that covers all kinds of things.

Dearest, Dearest, did you ever read such a Letter in your life! Our place of address is still Herrn Joseph Neuberg zu Bonn;—and n.b. the C. Barton5 is “at Frankfurt,” not here,—Dieu merci [Thank God]?!—I sent you a Bonn newspaper the next day after my arrival; the like to Jack: did you get yours? I will take that method sometimes. I avoid all Professors &c here; but mean to see old Arndt6 for a minute or 2.

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