January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO ALEXANDER GILCHRIST ; 5 March 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560305-TC-AGI-01; CL 31: 43-45


Chelsea, 5th March, 1856.

Thanks again for your new Gift,1—which I must endeavour again to accept without confusion of face! There is a certain interest in witnessing the actual Installation of Frederick's grandfather2 by Dutch William3 and “Mr. Johnston” (a countryman, whom I do not know),4—though the main profit is to make good the allusions (Louis XIV.'s second attack upon mankind, treaty of Ryswick5 still in the womb of Time, &c.), and to spell out the Prussian personages, one or more of whom are beyond my might in this dreadfully mangled condition, “Fulks” for Fuchs, “Denherff” for Donhoff6 etc. etc.

Serena” is rather a curious book for Toland's sake,7 and may become a little more so if the Goddess herself should ever be better known to English mankind. It was worth picking up.

I kept, or at least keep, the Dutch Book, after all. I find there are controversial discussions in it, Mynheer8 even getting satirical:—I learned one thing of interest to me, out of one of the old Plates: the situation of the Vielle Cour at Loo; Frederick's old Palace there,9 “a place all hung with cobwebs,” out of which Voltaire often dates letters to Frederick and others. It is hard to say, out of what one may not learn, by keeping one's eyes well open!

Your book, Müller on the 2 Silesian Wars,10 will be particularly welcome to me,—and Quàm Vivendum [in the nick of time], for I am just in that affair, hoping to wind myself out of it in, a fortnight or so; Heaven knows what bother I have had with mere masses of dark rubbish (dark though authentic), and no Books upon it that were not irrational. Please let me have that; it will be welcome any day.

Francke is Father of the Prussian Pietists, founder of a grand orphan Asylum at Halle, etc.; “ce chien de Francke [this dog Francke],” as Frederick's sister calls him for making them all take to psalm-singing and family prayers during the very dinner time, when her Father fell into the blues!11 I do not care about Francke; though as being a famed man of those days any book of his has a certain claim on one.

As to the hypothetical or prospective list, do not purchase at all. Bielefeld (tho' I did not know he was in English, before), thanks to your virtuous search, is here in French original.12 Vie du Prince Henri I also have,–a mere “hoohoo!” of empty laudation and court-wind; as is another Vie of him which I have:13—nothing else is well possible in that country, the man being truly an oblique-eyed (squinting), jealous, lean, vain creature, tho' very sharp in war; whom it is handier to say nothing plain about.

Mèm. de Bareith is a famed Book, and of first-rate moment (tho' very obscure to the English reader): I have at last got an English copy of my own. …

A clever creature this Wilhelmina, “the Margravine,” Frederick's eldest sister, loved by him beyond all other beings, and loving him with the like intensity: her Book is extremely curious (I often say, the one human Book there yet is on that matter);14 and with all her shrill vehemency and reckless exaggeration, Wilhelmina has grown quite a love of mine too. …