January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO AMALIE BÖLTE ; 5 July 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560705-TC-AB-01; CL 31: 117-118


Chelsea, 5 july, 1856—

Dear Miss Bölte,

Forgive my sins in regard to Professor Hettner's Book,1 and contrive somehow to make the Professor forgive them! I perceive you have not the least idea how I am situated in the matter of Books; overwhelmed with continents of Prussian rubbish, these many years now (for my sins),—forbidden to read anything except what has reference to my own thrice and four times dreary Enterprise; which often threatens to be the death of me, if I don't get rid of it soon!—

The sad truth is, I have never yet read your Professor's Book; and it were idle to promise myself that I could, within any limited period, find time and heart for reading it. I looked thro' it one evening, perhaps two, long ago, soon after it came; I read here and there in some of the leading Articles: and it seemed to me a Book got up by tolerably careful reading of the Biographical Dictionaries and such works, but to betoken nowhere much original recognition, or even direct personal acquaintance with the Authors treated of. A work not likely, therefore, to be very interesting or very useful out of Germany, when such knowledge is probably not current everywhere. I gave the Book on loan to Miss Wynne, who had heard it spoken of: she soon read it; and returned a Verdict, somewhat to the same effect, at any rate not favourable: this I meant to inclose to you by way of answer,—but my Wife, when I came to ask for the Note, had by mistake already slit it into spills; and I had now again Nothing to send! That was months ago; and there has been silence since as before. Such is the naked truth: clothe it in handsome habiliments, I beg of you; and be merciful in your judgements of me in this matter!— — I intend to present the Book to the London Library; that it may there have itschance among the general mass of mankind, and that my hand and conscience may be free of it.

I am about setting off for Scotland, in quest of a little quietude, sea-bathing, and fresh air: they are to begin printing at that unutterable Fredk the Great (a sore Fredk for me) before long; and I ought, above all things, to try and be in a little better health first.— I have often been in Dresden in spirit since you saw me there in the body:2—sore “sieges” and confusions indeed: I do not know that Heyne himself suffered so much when bombarded out of it by the Great Fritz 100 years ago!3

You may believe me I always heartily wish you well.

Yours very sincerely / T. Carlyle 4