The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JOSEPH NEUBERG ; 15 April 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530415-TC-JN-01; CL 28: 107-109


Chelsea, 15 April, 1853—

Dear Neuberg,

The “places” in the third edition of Miscellanies (London, 1847) are as follows:1

Burns is, vol I. p. 258–318; and Johnson (including the introductory article called Biography) is, Voll III. p. 1–90.— — As you do not want the Goethe reference, I think this is all.

We are sorry to hear of your ill fate in regard to health, while otherwise the innocent rural joys are offered you. The air is again so bitter and cold, there is no being well in it anywhere; neither spring foliage nor the human skin can prosper in such an element.

I got home at my appointed time from Hampshire; but with very little conquest to boast of from the adventure; and in fact so broken and confused by the restless shadowy mode of life, and the incurably unsuitable dietetic hours, I had to lie pretty much upon my oars for a week after, and have never yet got into very vigourous motion, at least towards any goal that I can reckon definite. I have been much concerned with poor Vehse and the Hanover monsters,—cousins of the Prussian Fritz's great-grandmother, Ahnfrau [ancestress] too of our present agreeable family,2 the lightheaded luckless Duchess of Ahlden, George the First's Wife, has been occupying me not a little.3 In these poor Hanover people I find, as has often been my surmise before, a very considerable dumb faculty,—really a “greatness” somewhat a little different from that of “great blockheads” (as John Mill once urged when I was talking in that strain):—courage, sullen instinctive resolution and persistency; an inarticulate gloomy strength, solidity and loyalty, which Nature does a little respond to, and acknowledge to be more royal than some other qualities that figure from the barrelhead and “place in parliament” as far superior. There are traces of a kind of Fate running thro' their history,—like that of a stupified Atrides genealogy: madness and blindness;—given an AEschylus (who alas is terribly undiscoverable; but if he were given) then the Tragedy would not be wanting either!4— On the whole, it has laid great hold of me, this cataract of scandals and flagrancies which poor Vehse has poured out from his historical urn: in that wild delirious torch-dance of confusions, platitudes, errors and delusions (of Vehse's and of Vehse's Heroes'), I have occasionally got glimpse into the regions of the unspeakable! That is the benefit from Vehse.

But practically, for one thing, there is another message I have for you to the Print-Merchant Weber (I could not recal him)5 in Bonn, in reference to this matter: a Portrait, namely, of that same Duchess of Ahlden. Be so good as inclose to the proper person, Weber,6 the first time you write to Bonn (it is not worth while to do so till then, as there is no haste), the little slip of Paper here appended; tell him the Print, if it is at once attainable, may be at once inclosed to the care of Abeken, Berlin, and Bunsen's Courier will bring it;—the payment to Weber shall be attended to, when Lady A's two Prints come, or by some earlier opportunity.7 I want a Portrait of this French-Guelf Child of Fate,—the mother of such kings;—Clytemnestra's fate was a poor parish-story compared with hers.8

Get well; take care of yourself, and let us hear soon of your return to these parts. Yours ever truly T. Carlyle

In the Pamphlet called Herzogin von Ahlden, Stammutter der Königlichen Häuser Hannover & Preussen (Leipzig, T. O. Weigel, 1852),9 p. 32 it is stated: An oil-painting of this Princess, now in the possession of a “Freiherr von Grote in Schanen,” and supposed to be painted by Gascar at Venice in 1686, has been “vortrefflich” [excellently] lithographed; and the Lithograph is now “im Kunsthandel vorhanden [available through art dealers].”— — I want a good Copy of this Lithograph.10


The writer of the above Pamphlet, which is strictly anonymous, I understand to be a “Graf von Schulenberg-Klostemde once Austrian Ambassador to Saxony”;—it is a thin Pamphlet, of 132 pages, my copy is in a thin yellow paper cover, and the Title (which I have given in full) will sufficiently identify it,—if (which I do not expect) there be any doubt about the Lithograph in question.

T. C.

15 April, 185311