July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO JWC ; 5 September 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580905-TC-JWC-01; CL 34: 169-173


Berlin, 5 Septr (Sunday) 1858—

Oh my Dearest,—It is above a week since you heard of me; and I, unhappy that I am, have not heard from you one word since the day before you were to quit Bay House! God knows how my own poor Jeannie is, or even where, all this while; and many are the heavyladen anxious thots I direct towards you: but it is all to no purpose; nothing but “Dresden” can do anything for me in that essential respect; and Dresden is still (as matters have now gone) far from my hand! Oh my Dearest, may the like never happen between us again; may this be the last journey I take into foreign tumults and horrors, far away from all I love, and all that is really helpful to me.— But we will write to Dresden; there will be means of getting the Poste Restante there to deliver up any treasure it may have, surely within a week hence, and before I get thither myself. Courage, courage; in a couple of weeks more I may be almost out of this unblessed jumble of an expedition, and near home as a man that has done it. Only be thou well, my Dearest, and all shall be well!— But to my narrative in prose.

The Usedoms in Rügen were the kindest of Hosts to me; and the place and circle there had its interests and advantages: but, alas, I fell unwell, the day after writing to you; bathed in the Baltic, on the back of all my Hamburg and other adventures; caught cold (had already caught it, but developed it by the vile “bathe”); felt as if I were getting into a fever outright,—and had to take decisive measures; namely calomel and castor, tho' in a foreign house! That did prove effectual; but you can fancy what a two or three days I had;—the rather as they made me do the “picturesque”1 all the time, and there was no end to the talk I had to carry on. The Herr von Usedom is a fine fat substantial intelligent and good man; we really had a great deal of nice speech together, and did beautifully together; only that I was so weak and sickly, and except keeping me to the picturesque, he wd not take almost any wise charge of my ulterior affairs. At length, Friday afternoon last, he did set out with me towards Berlin and practicalities: “To stay overnight at Putbus2 the Richmond of Rügen, and there catch the Steamer for Stettin (& thence rail to Berlin) next day.” We got to Putbus, doing picturesques by the way: a beautiful Putbus indeed; where I had such a night as shd be long memorable to me: big loud hötel,3 sea-bathing lodgers with their noises, including plenteous coach-horses under my window, followed by noises of cats, item of brood-sows, and (at 2 a.m.) by the simultaneous explosion of two cochin-china cocks, who continued the play thenceforth, and left me what sleep you can fancy in such quarters. Never till the end of things may I visit Putbus again!—However, next day's (yesterday's) steam voyage and rail do was pleasantly successful; and at 10½ p.m. I found the useful Neuberg here, who had secured me my old apartt in this good inn (“British Hotel,” unter den Linden);4 and here, thank God, I have got some sleep again, and have washed my skin clean;—and mean to be upon the road towards, Liegnitz & Breslau tomorrow, not to pause more till I get thro' the business I came upon, and be home to my own poor hearth again if it please Heaven!— Varnhagen & the Painter Magnus5 I must call upon today; these, with Usedom, and no more: in the afternoon I may try for a little more sleep; sleep or no sleep, we are off tomorrow, and hand sticks to plough till the furrow is complete.

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Varnhagen von Ense
Terry H. Pickett, The Unseasonable Democrat:
K. A. Varnhagen von Ense (1785–1858)
(Bonn, 1985)


———— Ng looks very ugly (is in fact, ill in health), Foxton is here too, scratchy, tho' in a repentant condition: enough, let us on, and make them do! Berlin is loud under my windows, a grey, close, hottish sunday; but I will take care not to concern myself with it beyond the needful: tomorrow we are off,—Liegnitz, Breslau, Prag, then Dresden (Letters there, O Heaven!)—after whh, only two Battlefields remain;6 and London is within a week. Ng is also going straight to London: you may compute that all the travelling details, washtubs, railways, money-settlements &c are fairly off my hands from this point. I have strength enough in me, too; with the snatches of sleep fairly expectable, I conclude myself roadworthy for 14 days. Then adieu, Keil-kissen [wedge-shaped bolster], sloppy greasy victual (all cold too, including especially the coffee and the tea);7 adieu Teutschland; adieu travelling altogether, and I will never leave my Goody any more. Oh what a Schatz [treasure] even I, poor I, possess in that quarter; the poorest, but also the richest in some respects, of all the sons of men!

I shall have a sufficiency of things to tell you of, at my return; but what good in speaking about outlying populations & objects not significant to us in the present whirl? If I could but see into Nithsdale, for one moment, and perceive my poor Jeannie to be doing well: Ah me!— The Frau v. Usedom took your Nithsdale address, and is for writing thither; but I think she will not,—nor is it much matter to you: a gutige Frau [good-natured lady], but a loud and demonstrative;8 not dwelling in the centre of objects, but towards the superficies: may I not soon again have need of such “doctoring9 in fremden Haüsern [strangers' houses] far away! I also saw some prettyish ancient Rügen gentn, item ladies, not all ancient, who regarded with curiosity the foreign monster, small thanks to them. N.b. the Baltic Sea is not rightly salt at all (not so salt as Solway at half tide); and one evg we rode across an arm of it. Insignificant sea!—

If Mrs Pringle will have you moderately well for me at my return, tell her my gratitude shall know no limit. I know not what to think; I dare not flatter myself too much; I waver betn hopes and fears.— Pray send word about me to Annandale kindred,—I think, to Mary10 may be best: a single line will be welcome and illumination there. Of Jack's coming I conclude there is now almost no chance whatever. Tant mieux [so much the better] perhaps.— Write again “to Dresden, Poste Restante”: if you write directly on receiving this, it will be sure to be in time. Oh that I had my first Letter from you! And then there will be the second; and then a glad meeting if it please God. Blessings on my poor wee Jeannie evermore! T. Carlyle