July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO ALEXANDER GILCHRIST ; 10 December 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18551210-TC-AGI-01; CL 30: 137-138


Chelsea, 10 Dec., 1855.

I yesterday found your new Gift of Prussian Pamphlets waiting for me when I came down. Really I am almost ashamed of your kindness, tho' very heartily obliged. …

The Letter on Patriotism1 I never saw, never distinctly heard of, before: I almost guess they are really not by Frederick (tho' nobody can at once say, such unutterable Editors are these Prussian ones), but I will read, I will examine; a Book even with such a title, in that year 1760, must be curious, and throw light on a thing or two. I suspect the Frederick in sky blue coat (dark blue is the real colour) may really be a copy by Hogarth from the Chodowiecky Portrait,2—not a quite unsuccessful Copy. The other reproduction from Chodowiecky teaches us at least (so bad is it) how happy we are to possess the excellent original.

Smith is quite right: “It is an error” (very considerable indeed!) “that the science of war needs not to be taught,”3 rule of thumb is by no means adequate to said science! —The “Instructions to the Cavalry” is a genuine Piece; I already have it in German (somewhere), with Notes by the Prince de Ligne.4 Frederick, I find, wrote several sets of “Instructions,” general or special, which at length got into print;5 that of De Ligne's is the only one I had; and that first one you gave me was reckoned by far the most important: every General had a copy in writing; sworn to keep it secret, and not to carry it to the war with him;—I see it was written before the 7-Years' War (probably about 1750); by what chance it got to the Public is not said; but, about the time of that English one, it was getting printed in various places—the Prussian Editors do not give it; a very notable set of Editors!—

We go on Monday, as I said; but shall be back, if all go right, punctually on the 17th of next month; shortly after which date let me have the pleasure of seeing you again, and thanking you for all this kindness.

Yours, with many regards,