August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO ÉMILE MONTÉGUT ; 16 April 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580416-TC-EM-01; CL 33: 206-208


Chelsea, 16 April, 1858—

My dear Sir,

A good few weeks ago, I received your pretty little Essay on the Esprit Français,1 which you were kind enough to send me, and even to dedicate to me:2—many thanks to you for both those favours; sincere thanks, tho' tardy! Beyond doubt, I ought to have written sooner; and I could have done so from the heart, so far as that went:—but I hope you will excuse my apparent negligence; I have been, these two years past, overwhelmed in such dreary whirpools3 of Prussian and other rubbish in the writing way, that the pen (especially this disobedient iron one) has become a hateful implement to me; and in fact I have hardly written any Note without delays, or written at all till it was evidently forced upon me. Happily something of this is now abating.

The Frederic, Part first (half of the whole), which has proved such a job as I never undertook in my life before, and would not do again for all Prussia and the next Kingdom added, is now nearly ready,—let me be thankful to Heaven! In summer coming I hope to get a long rest somewhere,—in some silent part of the Earth, with no Company but my Horse;—Part second will be much easier, if I ever rally to that. But in fact, the whole thing is, even in my own eyes, worth next to nothing; and only important as it has for a long while threatened to be the death of me, and to best me quite in my old days,—which it has not yet done. That is the one bright point in it to me.4

They have been reprinting a ‘general edition’ of my poor writings, moreover; but I have not taken much trouble with that,—helpers did that for me; and now it is pretty well over; will be finished (15 reasonable volumes, and well off my hand) in a couple of months more. If you could point out any method of conveyance to Paris (Barthès and Lovel5 perhaps?),—I would, with much pleasure, despatch you a copy; for I feel well that one of them is yours. Pray settle that matter; apprise me or the Bookseller (Chapman and Hall 193. Piccadilly); and the volumes will go off—to a loyal reader of them, who deserves much more of my hands. A lent Book or two of yours I still have; but these you will let me keep for a while longer.6

I should have said sooner, the “Esprit Français” gave me great pleasure in the reading,—me and others to whom I have lent it about. I found a fine true eyesight in that Essay; and a true soul withal, which is the parent of the former. Most of the features you assign I am well able to recognise,—in fact, I should wholly call it a true likeness, set forth in terms different from what my own way of looking at the matter had suggested to me from of old. Very ingenious too; and a fine glow of prophetic hope in it,—après tout, espérons [after all, let us hope]!

On the chance of my prosecuting Frederic,—I am looking out for one Bourcet (Book on the 7-years War);7 also, almost still more, for something about Belleisle & the Austrian-Succession War (1741–1748).8 The Dernière Guerre de Bohème Frankfurt, (1748)9 I have; but it is good for little. If you could fall in with anything in these departments, and give me notice, it would be very useful. But at any rate don't forget the carriage question (of these 15 volumes intended for you), but let me hear of that soon.

Yours ever truly, / T. Carlyle