January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 11 April 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560411-TC-JAC-01; CL 31: 62-64


Chelsea, 11 April, 1856—

My dear Brother,

I hope you and Henry are safe in Hamburg by this time!1 The weather has been showery but not unpleasant here; and no wind (I hope) to interfere with your comfortable progress. It is a little higher today; but still at s. w.;—any way I will hope you are now in the Elbe2 and independent of it.

This Note is still about Books; I pray you forgive me for the new bother! I got Heath's Voltaire;3—no Archenholtz;4 wherefore that is still on your List. The Voltaire proves to have defects in it,—in particular there is one volume (of Letters happily) which belongs altogether to another Edition; is in quite different type, and must have made a hole in some other man's Copy, as it proves to do in mine,—at once a gap and a reduplication in my series of Voltaire Epistles. I hope to get it changed in Paris, if Chorley and Rolandi stand good:5 happily it is of almost no intrinsic consequence; there being some 7 or 8,000 Lettres here already,—almost twice as many as I ever saw in an edition before: useless, most of them, to gods or men! In another volume, I find a sheet has dropped out (Binder's thread having given way): about this I have written to Heath, as perhaps he himself may have it; perhaps his Porter yesterday may have hustled it out in the huge Bag he had. Luckily again, this also is of no intrinsic consequence. The Index is excellent; and will be invaluable to me! On the whole I reckon the Book a signal acquisition in my present circumstances; and one of the cheapest Books I ever saw.6 You have no idea what help it will lend me: I am already (in the Jew-Voltaire Lawsuit)7 much its debtor; Klein8 (of Weimar Library) and it reflecting light on one another. It seems to be worth 4 of the London Library Copy; so excellently, contains everything (and more), and has annotations by the faithful Clogenson, who is often in error abt my Germanities, but is faithfully diligent and always worth attending to on his own side of the book.— You did a very good turn to me in unearthing that Book!

And now for the Hamburg Book-Affair. Gilchrist writes to me this morning that he has got tidings of a Decker here: price 18/ ; very dear I think, plates and all; but it will do,—unless you stumble upon it cheaper in Hamburg. Archenholz, it (on these terms) and the two Seckendorfs:9 this is your List now; Seckfs alone of much importance to me, and they not of very much.— — But there was a Book which Klein has brot me in mind of again, which I have long been seeking: do try a little for that if you can. Here is the Title:

Formey (Berlin French Parson, Secy of the Academy &c): Souvenirs d'un Citoyen (Berlin François de la Garde 1789) two small volumes, I guess;10—but it seems to be fallen out of notice: I believe it a dull dreary Book, useful to nobody but one in my case. A copy wd probably come very cheap if you happened to fall in with it. Try, pray!—

And in case you cannot get the Book itself,—could you not perhaps give me and it an hour in some Stadtbibliothek [municipal library] or the like where some copy of it may be; and copy me (or get copied for me) at pp. 239 and 245 vol I, certain Letters of Voltaire to Formey (abt the Jew Lawsuit, entreating him to speak to the Judges &c,—see Klein V, 229); also to look at p. 235, and copy or abstract for me what is there said about Voltre's pomp & grandeur of influence (levees of Courtiers abt him) before this Lawsuit (which happened, the 5th month after his coming, namely, end of decr 1750). Formey also mentions him, first visit (says Klein) at I, 232,—which look at, but I think there is nothing to be copied there. And this is all, dear Brother. And I have to add, with a kind of emphasis, that Formey's Book or the “Copying” I talk of, or any transaction with Formey, is not essential to me by any manner of means; nay perhaps it is only the kind of morbid craving I often have to go into the very bottom of the smallest matters? In fact I appear to myself to have already spent far more labour on this paltry business than will ever be rewarded to me! So regulate yourself according to all the facts.

I trust your affairs at the Rauhe Haus11 and elsewhere in Hambg are going well; and that you will soon be back among us.— Nothing the least new has happened: Margt Welsh went away a few hours after you and Henry (of whom the Postman gave us word); since that I have hardly spoken a word to any mortal; indeed yesterday I did not speak to anybody, having sat here till 5. Adieu dear Brother, and speedy return for you. Yours ever affectly

T. Carlyle