The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO MARY RICH ; 5 December 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401205-TC-MRI-01; CL 12: 344-345


Chelsea, 5 Decr, 1840—

Dear Mrs Rich,

A decidedly meritorious, and evidently very necessitous young German, of the name of Bentheim,1 applied here repeatedly some months ago; whom I am right glad to recommend to you for Teacher. His dialect of English is not such as you will admire; but the error turns out to be rather in pronunciation than in intelligence,—an incoherent articulation, as if he were speaking thro' water, as if he were speaking with two or more tongues at once. I suppose it is a German peculiarity; Charles V. said, He would speak to his horse in German.2 Fancy this a river-horse endeavouring to speak to you!

What is most to the purpose, Bentheim is a person of intelligence in his own language; he even writes meritoriously in German, is a scholar, philologer, a modest man,—and I should hope would prove a superior artist for your purpose. I have given him a card for you; with which he will probably introduce himself straightway.

Should he have quitted London, and not appear, or if on appearing you do not like him, I doubt not I can readily discover another.

If I were near Mr Scott I should surely go and hear these things. Why does he never come to see me of late?

Eloquent thanks to Miss Stirling3 for her present of the French Crown! Shall I drill a hole in it, and wear it round my neck?

In these days I am driven nearly mad by Special Juries. Yesterday I sat from nine in the morning till nearly eight; parboiled; listening to jargon which the human mind, head, heart, and whatever sense or truth was in it, rejected as little other than a personal insult. For about a week I had attended; on Monday I have to commence again! We live in a free country, the envy of surrounding nations. Last night I really, in my exasperation, was not far from starting up in the Jury-box, and addressing Sergeant Kelly4 in words: “Good Heavens, Kelly, was that fine faculty of yours given you to erect quirks and quibbles into just facts and pervert God's truth in the world? For shame, man! Cut out your tongue altogether, rather!”— There would have been a paragraph for the Morning Newspapers!

Poor Oliver lies like grains of gold dust scattered under continents of cinders and rubbish. I fear much I shall never be able to collect him: our greatest man irrecoverably lost to History!

Adieu, dear Mrs Rich.

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle