August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO KARL AUGUST VARNHAGEN VON ENSE ; 7 October 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18571007-TC-KAVE-01; CL 33: 97-99


Chelsea, 7 octr, 1857—

My dear Sir,

Many thanks for your two Notes to me,—for your kind thought in regard to that matter of “Voltaire at Frankfurt.”1 I already had a Copy of that excellent little Tract,—fruit of your goodness to me at its first appearance;—and have again studied it over, more than once, since these investigations began. It lies bound up with other interesting Pieces of a kindred sort; ready for use when the time comes2 But you are not to think this Second Copy wasted either; the little Pamphlet itself I have already turned to good account for my interests;—and the fact of its being sent me on those terms has value which I would not willingly part with.

How often have I wished that I had you here “as a Dictionary”! But there is nothing such attainable in these latitudes:—the truth is, I should have come to Berlin to write this Book:3 but I did not candidly enough take measure of it, before starting, or admit to myself, what I dimly felt, how “gewaltig [vast]” an affair it was sure to be! In that case, I had probably never attempted it at all. Nobody can well like his own performance worse than I in this instance: but it must be finished taliter qualiter [such as it may be]. Nay on the whole it needed to be done: the English are utterly, I may say disgracefully and stupidly dark about all Prussian and German things;—and it did behove that some English man should plunge, perhaps on his mere English resources, into that black gulph, and tear-up some kind of human footpath that others might follow.— At any rate, I hope to get it done; and that will be reward enough for me, after the horrible imprisonment I have had in it so long.

The Edinburgh-Review on Goethe I have not seen: somebody told me it was by Mrs Austin,4 whom you may remember: “Hat nichts zu bedeuten [it is of no importance],” there or here! Nor Lord Brougham's speculations on the Great Friedh any more;5—the speculations of Lord Brougham's Horse are as well worth attending to. And indeed are about as much attended to by the best kind of people here! For I am happy to say there is, sparingly discoverable, a class among us of a silent kind, much superior to that vocal one;—and many a “Palmerston,” “Crimean War,” &c &c as mirrored in the Newspapers, and in the heads of those Stillen im Lande [quiet in the land]6 would surprise you by the contrasts offered. What they call “Liberty of the Press” is become a thing not beautiful to look at in this country, to those who have eyes!

The Indian mutiny is an ominous rebuke.7 It seems probable they will get it beaten down again, but I observe those who know least about it, make lightest of it. What would Frh Wilhelm have said to such an “Army” as that Black one has been known for 30 years past to be!8— Miss Wynne has returned to us; bright as ever. Adieu, dear Sir; take care of yourself thro' the grim months.— Yours ever truly T. Carlyle

The little Ahlefeld Book (tell Madame)9 is a great favourite here, as it deserves to be, with all who see it.