January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO J. G. COCHRANE; 28 February 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310228-TC-JGC-01; CL 5:238-240.


Craigenputtoch, Dumfries, / 28th Feby, 1831—

Dear Sir,

I have received both your Letter and the Manuscript; of which last I have also with my first leisure carefully examined the portion you refer to.

I find that those ten concluding pages which treat of Reineke de Fos would indeed make a readable, perhaps rather pleasant, yet altogether trivial Paper: but they stand there as the topstone and conclusion of a considerable mass, built up not without care and effort; from which mass, tho' individually the most insignificant part of it, I am of opinion they cannot be disjoined without injury to the meaning both of what is taken and of what is left. The whole Essay on what I have called the Didactic Era of German Literature, extending from the Minnesingers to the Reformation Period, and of which this Reineke is the last figure, occupies some 47 pages, and under the title, German Literature of the Fourteenth & Fifteenth Centuries (perhaps some better were devisable) might, by a very easy introduction, form what I reckon a rather important Article;1 an attempt, at least, to exhibit a very important and complex object. If you like the Paper under this last shape, it can be made ready in few hours, and shall be instantly despatched: if not, then I shall only beg you to understand with all distinctness that your refusal of it will not give any the smallest offence to me; nay perhaps my self-interest would rather incline towards such a result. Reineke by itself is decidedly not worth sending. Be kind enough to say what your feeling is: and herewith we will push aside this Manuscript, and have no more to do with it.

I had also received your former Letter, but delayed answering it in hope of hearing more: I rather incline to think that Ulrich Hutten and the Epistolae might make a handsome Disquisition; should wish, at all events, to see that New Edition of the Book he was concerned in, and any other writings illustrative of him,—if you can send them without inconvenience. Five volumes of an Edition of his works (by Hermann Münch) are already in my possession: also a short Life by Wagenseil; and an old dusty Dutch copy of the Epistolae, without note or comment of any kind. Münch had not got so far as the Obscure men with his Publication (in 1828, I think, but the Book is in another room);2 neither was his promised Biography forthcoming; both of which, if he has in the mean time overtaken them, I should be very glad to look at.

Your last Number I have gone thro'; and find it all very polished, gentlemanly and correct: but could wish much that your Divers would go deeper down, the rich pearls lie lower. Permit me this criticism, which originates in a true concern for the cause you manage and strive after.

Before concluding, too, I will send you a little piece of News, for your next Bulletin. Herr Kaufmann favourably known by some considerable versions from Shakspeare, is at this time engaged, at Berlin, in translating Burns!3 He proceeds under the eye of the Berlin Gesellschaft für ausländische Litteratur [Society for Foreign Literature] of which he is a member. This you may depend on as authentic enough. Goethe writes to one of his friends: Ein talentvoller junger Mann und glücklicher Uebersetzer beschäftigt sich jetzt mit BURNS; ich bin sehr darauf gelegen.4

I remain, / Dear Sir, / Your's truly, /

Thomas Carlyle—