The Collected Letters, Volume 10


TC TO JOHN S. DWIGHT ; 18 October 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18381018-TC-JSD-01; CL 10: 206-207


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London, / 18th October, 1838—

Dear Sir,

Your very courteous Letter has just been handed in to me. I answer without delay, what you have reason to expect, that I am flattered and honoured by your proposal; that if such a dedication can seem in any way desirable to you, it cannot be other than gratifying to me.1

My best wishes go with you in your Enterprise. Among the Germans are to be found true Singers; the only true ones we have had for a great while, with any such compass of melody; the last we are like to have, I think, for a great while. You do well to unseal their voices for them in that great Western Land. They are countrymen, kinsmen of ours, these Teutschen; and truly, in the speaking or singing department, the chief of the Family at present. In the doing and devising department again, we Saxons, Englanders New and Old, may set up for the first. Honour to each after his kind!

Your mood of mind is the right one for a Translator. The tune of a Poem, especially if it be a Goethe's Poem, is the soul of the whole; round which all, the very thoughts no less than the words, shapes and modulates itself: the tune is to be got hold of before anything else can be got.2 And yet each language has its genius, its capabilities;—your task is a difficult one. For the rest, there is no alchemy like true goodwill.

It is several years now since I quitted that province of things: but I feel still, and shall ever feel, its great importance to the whole modern world: and it is a real pleasure to me, on looking round, to observe so many generous fellow-labourers, on this side the Ocean and on that,3 who have taken up the cause in such a fashion as to ensure fair play to it in the long run. Go on and prosper.

May I ask you to present my kind remembrances to Mr Ripley.4 I have many friends in your country, whom I know not how to thank. If you see Emerson, say I wrote to him lately out of Scotland, and mean to write again in some two weeks by a speedier conveyance.

With many good wishes / Yours, Dear Sir, very truly, /

T. Carlyle