The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO [HENRY COLE] ; 14 May 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410514-TC-HC-01; CL 13: 132-134


Chelsea, 14 May, 1841—

My dear Sir,

There are two Notices of Mantegna's Triumph of Caesar, written by Goethe; in the Kunst und Alterthum, vol IV. No 1. p. 111, and No 2. p. 51 of the same volume.1 Neither of these that I can find has been admitted into the general Collection of his Works. The Kunst und Alterthum (Art and Antiquity) is a kind of Periodical which Goethe in his latter years used to publish at irregular intervals; some 4 or 5 Nos of it making a small dumpy volume, of which at his death there were 5 in all. What were judged the best pieces have been reprinted among his Posthumous (Nachgelassene) Works; but this of Mantegna, as I said, does not appear among these. I remember well enough reading them, a number of years ago. There is much praise given to Mantegna; extracts from Vasari; correspondence with Dr Noehden (at that time, of the British Museum), from whom chiefly Goethe has procured a minute account of the Mantegnas in Hampton Court, and of the English history of them.2 He speaks cursorily of Andreani,3 whose wood-cuts seemed to be lying before him; but his knowledge is by no means exclusively derived from these; Mantegna himself had done 5 or 6 of them in Copper, which work some other Artist had continued; Noehden, as I said before, was there with his eyes and foot-rule, with his extracts from English pamphlets &c &c: in short the old Sage had got together for himself a very complete notion of the thing, from all quarters, and speaks an interesting word on this Mantegna.— The Foreign Booksellers all, I suppose, have copies of the Kunst und Alterthum: you ask for the 4ten Bandes 1ster Heft and 2ter Heft [4th volume, books 1 and 2]; at the pages specified above, it all stands written.

The Secretary Librarian is and has been, as I conjecture, one of the busiest men in London.4 You will do well to forgive him his neglect of writing, and stop over some day to see what a most cheering altogether indisputable Library he has already got together in Pall Mall. I had not so much as heard of the thing for many weeks; and was entirely astonished yesterday in the most agre[e]able5 manner, on going thither. There is even now, as I compute, a better stock of reading laid open than the London Public ever had presented to it in that manner, since London first rose out of mud. Go and see, go and help. Encourage all Towns and persons to do the like and ever better: let England cease soon to be the most ignorant spot of God's Earth with more dumb intellect in it than any land ever had. Libraries, Schools, Preachers. (if there were any Preachers or Speakers), and all manner of articulate Culture were never better bestowed on any people,—not to say that the people is taking fire if it do not get these, and much that will follow from these!—

You provided for young Hunt,6 I think—tho' the lad himself never came to tell me of it. You did a charitable helpful act.

Yours sincerely /

T. Carlyle