July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO JWC ; 10 September 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580910-TC-JWC-01; CL 34: 178-180


Brieg (Lower Silesia) 10 Septr (friday) 1858

Dearest,—Having a little time here, at the turning point and ultima Thule of our journey, I will write thee a few words,—the first since I was at Berlin 6 days ago. For four days more I must wait before any news is possible from your side; no help for it; we have written to Dresden to “forward to Prag”; on the 14th surely to Heaven there will be tidings of my poor little woman. I try to keep hoping: what can I do?—

We quitted Berlin, under fair auspices, monday morning last; fortified with a general Letter from “the Prince's Aide-de-camp”1 to all Prussian Officers whatsoever: but hitherto, owing to an immense Review2 whh occupies everybody, it has done us less good than was expected. At Cüstrin, that first monday night, a benevolent Major3 did attend us to the Field of Zorndorf, & shewed us everything: but in other places hitherto the “the review at Liegnitz” has been fatal to help from such quarter. We have done pretty well without;—have seen 3 other fields, and had adventures, of a confused, not wholly unpleasant character; of whh Goody, please Heaven, shall one day hear. Our second place was Liegnitz itself (full of soldiers, oak-garlands, coloured lamplets, and expectation of “the Prince”)4: we were on the Battlefield, and could use our natural eyes; but for the rest had no guidance worth other than contempt. Did well enough, nevertheless; and got fairly out of Liegnitz, to Breslau, Wedy Evg, whh has been headquarters ever since (a dreadfully noisy place at night), out of which were excursions—yesterday to Leuthen (the grandest of all the Battles); today hither, about 50 miles away, to Molwitz the first of Fritz's Fights; from whh we have just now returned, and have to wait for some kind of dinner, then for a train back &c: Tomorrow, if it please God, I quit Breslau again forever and a day: one other place in Schlesien [Silesia] (Striegau, they call it), then across to Prag (with Letters from Goody, ah me!),—after Prag to Dresden, (probably 16th of the month); and then there are but three places more to do; and one turns homeward, full gallop, so glad to be out of all this with the life still in one!— Home in Chelsea probably about the 20th of the month;—and I will come to Tynron to seek my poor Goody if that is desirable to her; and we shall be quiet and thankful in our own house again, if the good Heavens permit! Ach Gott!—

Sleep is the great difficulty here; but one does contrive some way. Occasionally (as at Cüstrin) one has a night “whh is rather exquisite”:5—but I lie down in the daytime, sleep better next night; in fine struggle thro', one way or the other. I do not think it is doing me much hurt; and it lasts only some ten days now. As to profit— Well there is a kind of comfort in doing what one intended. That at least is achievable.— The people are a good honest modest set of beings; poorer classes, especially in the country, much happier than with us: every kind of industry is on the improving hand; the land (mainly sandy) is far better tilled than I expected. And oh the Church-steeples I have mounted up into, and the barbarous jargoning I have had, questioning ignorant menkind! Leuthen yesterday & Molwitz today, with their respective steeples and adventures, I shall never forget. Adieu Dearest, till I get back to Breslau: I will now (after smoking) try for a little sleep till dinner; being in an upper room expressly intended for that object.

Breslau, 11 Septr (10 a.m.) 1858

I finish this with endless flurry & haste in my upper room, bedroom 5 stories high, in the Golden Goose (zur Goldnen Gans)6 in this ancient Slavic city, whh (thank God) I hope to quit in about an hour forevermore. Three nights; not good, and the last (after my Brieg7 Excursion) was by no means the best. However I am rüstig [vigorous], roadworthy: Striegau Battle today; and then we bend across the mountains,8 and are in Prag 3 days hence,—news from my Darling waiting me there? God grant it be good news!—

This is as queer an old City as you ever heard of. High, as Edinr or more so; streets very strait and winding: roofs 30 feet or so in height, and of proportionate steepness, ending in chimney-heads like the half of a Butterfirkin, set on its side.9 The people are not beautiful; but they seem innocent and obliging: brown-skinned scrubby bodies a good many of them, of Polack or Slavic breed, more power to their elbow. You never saw such Churches, Rathhouses [town halls] &c,—old as the Hills & of huge proportions. An island (in the Oder here) is completely covered with Cathedral & Appendages.10 Brown women with cock noses, snubby in character, have all got straw hat-umbrellas, crinolines &c as fashion orders, and are no doubt charming to the house men.— Plenty to tell my poor Goody, had I once got speech of her again!—

Please forward that at once (simply in a cover & stamp) to Chapman.11 Neuberg is a perfect Issachar12 for taking labour on him;—needs to be led with a strongish curb. Scratchy Foxton & he are much more tolerable together:—grease plus vinegar; that is the rule. God bless thee Jeannie dear. Thine ever T. Carlyle