The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JOSEPH NEUBERG ; 6 February 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530206-TC-JN-01; CL 28: 35-37


Chelsea, 6 feby, 1853—

Dear Neuberg,

You have seized the rationale of the Prints quite aright; and have only to proceed as you intend, to bring the matter to a happy issue.

I have rashly marked, as you requested, the “8 Clarendons”1 and another (9 in all) with ink; but, alas, the paper doesn't stand ink, and the crosses come thro' in a most perplexing manner! I have therefore marked them again in pencil (An equal sign struck through vertically): in fact, all the Prints there named are to be got, except only Carolus Rex and Mrs Vandyck (Nos 374, 373);2 and you will have no farther difficulty with that.— If you will now, at your leisure, give me a Copy of the List you send to Bonn,—marking merely the Numbers of the several Prints (not minding their prices &c), and merely requesting Weber to inclose another Copy of his Catalogue along with the Prints which come,—I will forward said Copy-List to her Ladyship, and so I think we shall be fairly out of the adventure. With thanks to Heaven and you!—

I was reflecting, on Saturday morning, how extremely useful a hardy intelligent assistant might be to me at the Museum in my present enterprises: a great many Books, Prints &c on my Prussian affairs lie scattered there, especially in George III's Library (where an intelligent soul has been at work in former days,—Heaven bless him!),—but to get them dug out, and even made ready for my own reading, in that sad Establishment, is in general beyond what strength of heart and skin I have.3 An obliging but not very articulate gentleman, called Watts, is always ready to help, indeed;—who possesses the names of more Books than anybody I have ever seen, but beyond their names, possesses——!— In fact, I am very ill off; as every man, indeed, in this world is, who is following a work of his own in it,—and leaping ditches and hedges with his loaded cart, instead of following the beaten Dilettante highways, the goal of which is unhappily not so delightful as the smooth travelling on them!

Various points in the black abominable Chaos of the Reichs-Geschichte [traditional German history] have attracted me: incidents concerning which I could desire to question the first eyewitnesses (if such exist): such even exist in Voigts scandalous Dungheap (in 9 heavy volumes, the pearls of which could be held in a snuffbox):4 above all, I am eminently desirous to know something direct concerning the First Brandenburg Hohenzollern, and his Lange Gretchen there; concerning whom, or which, my poor Michaelis (a learned man given to “brandy,” I am told) carefully avoids saying anything at all, but merely rocks and rattles immense baskets of “marine-stores” in my bewildered ear.5 On this Earth, I believe, there is nowhere so intense a blockhead, so fatal to himself and mankind, as your learned college one who never dreams but he is a prophet and shining light!

No doubt some stout man, with a clear head and loyal patient heart, might perhaps achieve something for me in regard to all this, and perhaps I really shall search a little more for such a one by and by: but it is not a work I could set anybody upon at all, except for weekly wages, and to save him from worse,—you not by any means! And if I even find nobody,—who knows? One's coat can be cut “according to the cloth, ”—or one's no coat;—and perhaps a small coat (I have known it so) is better than a big. I leave it peaceably to the Powers.— In the way of Copying there is little or even nothing hitherto, to occupy your evenings. A friendly Mr Chorley went thro' all the embroiled scrawls I had, some two years ago, in the way you did with the Lr Day Pamphlet unteased wool;—and made what he called a “Zur Geschichte [Toward a History] of James I” (very small “Zur” indeed):6 this I will perhaps bid you read some day or other, but indeed somebody has it at present. Perhaps also more will come!— Yours ever truly T. Carlyle