1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO JAMES MARSHALL; 29 April 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550429-TC-JMA-01; CL 29: 297-298


Chelsea, 29 April, 1855—

Dear Marshall,

I received, the other night, safe and in due course, the Volume of Schöning on the Baiern-Krieg of 1778, which your gracious mistress, H.R.H. The Grand-Duchess, was pleased to bid you send me;—and with a satisfaction which, I need not to say, was quite of the uncommon order. The Book will be very useful to me when (if ever) I get to that Scene of Frederick's history;1 and independently of that, and of all “uses,” it surely has a good right to be precious to me. I know not how to thank that high Lady for so acceptable, pleasant and gracefully human a mark of her goodness to me; and can only beg you to testify, in whatever way is most respectful and sincere, that I do receive my Gift with all gratitude; and am proud of it,—and connect it with the Old Tower of Nassau2 (where I once was, with reflexions of my own) in a way that is altogether valuable to me! No more said: let the rest of my loyalty be silent.—

I am in deep confusion here at present, chiefly with my Fritz, for I have retired as much as possible from all other things; much intent to deliver myself from that intolerable sorrow: if I do not, it threatens to deliver itself from me, in a way I do not long for. It is by far the ugliest mass of dreary work I ever undertook, and in my old days it comes doubly heavy. It is not that I dislike Fredk; on the contrary I find him a genuine man after his sort, and much calumniated and misunderstood in this part of the world: but I must say the Prussian History Books and German generally— Oh Heaven they often seem to me to excel in real horror, of barrenness and darkness and meanness of intellect and mind, all the Books I ever read before; and Fk II wanders hitherto like a disconsolate ghost among them, a shadow whom I chace vainly over mere worlds of “marine-stores”3 (of the Academic type) and endless continents of what I call “Prussian sand.” I often think he will be my death yet; but he shall not, if I can help it. I beg your prayers; you can give me nothing more.

As you may believe well, I took no share in the “ovation” lately going forward here,—if indeed there was any “ovation” out of the Newspapers, as I rather doubt almost? Rational people, when one happened to meet them, were apt to be cold and silent on the subject, if not even worse than silent; and for my own share I can only say I came driving along Piccadilly about half an hour before the sublime so-called Emperor was expected; and beheld drawn up to receive him two most thin rows (sorrowfully thin, one-deep, with holes every here and there) of the most scandalous-looking wretches I ever set eyes on before; the very sediment of Creation; pickpockets, shirtless, dirty-shirted mortals, habitually serving the Devil (to judge by the whole air of them): these, and nothing else, were full certainly drawn up in Piccadilly from St James's St. to Hyde-Park Corner,—so as to make even my hard heart sorry;—and more I did not see of the “ovation,” not I, for my part, nor care to see. Adieu, dear Marshall: I send you many regards; and am always

Yours sincerely /

T. Carlyle