The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JOSEPH NEUBERG ; 28 July 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530728-TC-JN-01; CL 28: 226-230


Chelsea, 28 july, 1853—

Dear Neuberg,

More than once I had been asking myself what was become of you; but, of course, without any answer except from the echoes, till your Letter arrived on Monday last. I am very sorry to hear of all those physical afflictions, which have defaced the beauty of the German summer for you; I can well understand, too, by experience of my own, what a sad reflexion it is that takes possession of a human soul in those circumstances, “Alas, I am over the crown of the hill, then; and only deeper and deeper descent is now possible for me: and this is all that life would yield, the very measurable this!1

Nevertheless we must not be discouraged: the descent too has its beauties, pious and solemn, if less noisy and flaring than the uphill journey was; and a man is under the great blue Heaven in all stages, till he die, and after too. Courage, courage!— As to these complicated ailments, “action of the heart” &c, I confess my own theory for the present is, they are perhaps nothing, one and all of them, but deranged liver; a most Protean, but also a very curable or assuageable ailment; and I hope confidently the Kissingen Waters2 will bring you very speedy relief. Another great and necessary recipe in advancing years is, To lay oneself up for rest whenever rest is useful, to secure a good “dry dock,”—a permanent place of residence namely; which brings with it the total cessation of a huge crowd of little annoyances, and clears the air very much altogether laying one kind of dust. As I think you have now made your choice between England and Germany, I recommend (what doubtless is your own purpose), as the duty first in order, a vigorous attention to this of setting up a permanent house again, and arranging it to fit your own shape in all ways. This you will find a very great alleviation, and a true composing medicine in many essential respects.— I hope you will be luckier in a Builder, too, than I have been! Nay there is nothing to hinder you to be luckier; even I already know one far preferable to my last. The marriage once done,3 you must break ground at Hampstead; and push the matter vigorously to a good conclusion!—

There has nothing happened here, of much moment, since you went away. The Cloaca-Maxima4 confusions disappeared from our street; the Russian or other such Questions did not agitate us much; and the summer weather, almost always grey enough, warm enough, and windy enough, has been greatly to my mind,—never oppressively hot one day, and yet bringing on a good harvest, as I hear it prophesied.— I brought out the Nigger Question, with a good stout mass of new matter, stuck into the middle of it, tempering the wind to the shorn lamb: a small green sixpenny book;5 if I knew any way, I would send you a copy;—but that will come in good time; and furthermore you will find at one place a thought of your own introduced, to heighten your interest in the piece. Johnson also is out:6 hat nichts zu bedeuten [it's of no interest]. This is the sum of my literary publishings for the present season;—and infinitesimal quantity, and yet, I do believe, perhaps enough!

For the rest the burden of Fritz lies heavy on me; and really is at last becoming unbearable. Except as driven on by that negative species of impulse, the transcendent intolerability of such a lumber-mountain laid upon one's heart, I see no slightest chance of any solution,—of a good solution I reckon the matter incapable here at Chelsea (instead of Berlin) in this year of grace. I wish to Heaven I had never heard of Fritz! He has been the death of several years of my existence;—and he gave us a very bad night at Lowositz,7 as you recollect, and at some other places! Off my unfortunate soul, however, he shall go, and must before long,—if down into the belly of Chaos and German Dryasdustism again, how can I help it? Certainly I shall be cunning if, out of that world of sordid cinders, slag and scoriae, accumulated by the Genus Pedant (in the pipeclayed, in the academic, and other forms) diligently working, with the whole field to itself, for above a hundred years, I, poor I, can ever smelt the little ingot that lies balefully hidden in them!— — For some weeks back, I have been forcing myself to actual writing,—yet all along, with the feeling that not a word of it would do; and that fire alone could be the destination of all that. Heaven help me— But I had better speak no more of it, at any rate: let it beat me, if it can and must: I am well capable of being beaten by this time.

But let me take up Weber's case, while there is still paper left. So far as I know, or can learn, Weber has none but himself to blame for not being paid sooner: the instant his Account had appeared in a liquid shape (as it was expected to do, and even asked to do), it wd have been paid by return of post. Impress that on him, for future cases; and in general, that a minimum of “correspondence” about any matter is desirable in that quarter!— Yesterday Lord A. (for they are half out of Town, and in the whirl of leaving for Scotland & the Ultima Thule)8 sent me this Draught for Weber (£11. 18s, which I here enclose), but forgot to send me back his Account and address &c;—and so, after study, I have decided to send it on to you for negociation: Get me a receipt, please, for your next Letter,—receipt on behalf of Lord An (and in his name, mine need not be mentioned at all), certifying that that affair is completely settled, and will never trouble us again, being now DONE!

As to the new order of Prints, two (I think) that were ordered,—I can only say, Stand by the order you got; and don't be afraid of a few shillings if the Print is really good and the copy good. And the swifter, the better!— For the rest, your words, “Engraved by Bause after Wille,—Frederk at a Review,” must include a mistake of some kind;9 for after an ugly hunt (once more) thro' the Lumber-Rooms of Preuss they contain no such notice,—this slip in pencil is what they contain, and what I once before had sifted out for myself: I enclose it, with the above general order, as all the light I can get or give. No 2 (of the slip in pencil) was the grand desideratum,—if that in a good form is to be got for 12 thrs,10 send it. No 1 too, if that is the old Fritz by Graff (now in the Banking house at Berlin, which Magnus took me to see),11 or much resembles it, that also will be worth sending and paying for. What No 3 is (in Preuss) I cannot perfectly make out: but it seems to be a young Ftz (not so good as Schmidt's, after the same original Pesne), and is of less value to us here. And this is all the direction I can give in the Weber affair and you and he, I hope, will work your way thro' it, in some handsome manner after all. Let me have his receipt to send to Lord An, by the next Letter you write: this is the one request abt which there is no doubt;—and after this, we shall see! (N.b. I believe, in private, these new Ashburton Prints are ordered solely or chiefly for my behoof; so, if you see them, you will be abler to decide than any other.)

If you go again to Berlin, I shall probably have enough to ask! Here is already one Memorandum: To copy (out of Porst's Hymn book) that Psalm-song sung at Leuthen Battle: “Gib dass ich thu' mit Fleiss, was &c” Preuss ii.107);12—also another Hymn or Psalm, sung on a (as I find in another Book) on a very difft sort of occasion, “Greif / an das Werk mit Freuden / Wozu Gott mich bescheiden / in meinem Amt und Stand13 (if you know such a Piece or can find it easily, for it is not otherwise of almost the least real importance to me). There will be other work specially for Berlin, if you go.

At Kiel, if you meet with any intelligent reading man, you will be in the right place for informing yourself about Struensee & Queen Matilda of Denmark:14 I believe there is one Danish History that truly elucidates that matter? The Pamphlet about Struensee's “Conversion,” while under sentence of death;—in fact any real, illuminative details, on the subject;—use any opportunity you may have to procure such, or indications towards such. I read lately an English Book on the subject (Sir R. Murray Keith's Life) but that is edited by a fool.15— Platnauer is in Copenhagen, and could research for any Danish Book, Print &c I might be in need of.

Finally if you chance to be in Antiquar shops (but don't go thither, no!), and can find the first volume of that “Lebens—und Regierungs Geschichte Friedrichs des Andern (Leipzig 1786–88),”16 of which you once sent me from Bonn (cheap as dust) all but the first volume,—pick it up for me, rather eagerly even! The Book is not so utterly condemnable to the fire as most; and, lately from the Berlin Nicolai collection there has come, most unexpectedly, a register, which proves to refer to it and to the Notes in it,—and wd serve in some faint measure as a Biographical Dictionary (the worst in Nature)17 if I had the first volume by lucky chance. I have the Beylag [Appendix] of first vol.18 and all the rest— Ach Gott, never mind, never mind!

And so enough, dear Neuberg, for this once. Go to Kissingen, and get fast well again.— My Wife has been in Scotland these four weeks, and is now on her return as far as Liverpool,—home probably tomorrow. I myself design to stay here; having toured enough lately (and been tortured by want of sleep &c &c) to serve me for a while longer!

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle


1°. Weber's Draft for £11.18

2°. Pencil Note of Fredk Prints (to be used at Bonn).