January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


TC TO KARL AUGUST VARNHAGEN VON ENSE ; 19 August 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450819-TC-KAVE-01; CL 19: 154-155


Chelsea, London, 19 August 1845—

My dear Sir,

Once more I am to trespass on your good nature for a little bit of service you can do me. A distinguished Lady here, the Lady Harriet Baring, has seen lately, in the house of some country friend, an Illustrated Life of Frederick the Great, just imported from Germany, a copy of which she is very desirous to possess.1 It is “in one stout volume 8vo, the wood-cuts are beautiful”; recently published; where, by whom, or of whose authorship, I cannot tell! This is somewhat like the Interpreting of Nebuchadnezzar's Dream,2 the Dream itself not being given: however, I hope your sagacity will be able to divine what is meant. It is evidently some Pracht-Buch [handsome book] for Drawingroom Tables: Leben Friedrichs mit Holzschnitten [The Life of Frederick with Woodcuts];—the Woodcuts, moreover (or perhaps they were not wood-cuts at all) were “in the manner of Retsch.”3 Does this define it for you? Wood-cuts or not, they were interspersed among the Letter-press,—part of a page printed, part engraved.

If you can find with certainty what Book it is, and get me a Copy well bound, and send it over by the Berlin and Fleet-Street Bookseller,4 I shall be really obliged. One might have it bound here; but the foreign binding will be more piquant. It should be done anmuthig [delightfully] yet with much modesty: we will trust to your taste for that. On the outside of one of the boards (of course not on the back) there should be legible, within a border, the Letters “H.M.B.” (which mean Harriet Montague Baring) and “Addiscombe” (the place of residence).— — These are rather singular duties to impose upon you! Nevertheless I will trust to your goodness for doing them even with pleasure. And pray observe farther: I cannot consent to the operation at all unless you leave the whole money part of it to be settled by myself with the Bookseller here; that is an absolute condition, a sine quâ non!

Another Lady5 has employed me in another somewhat singular thing of the Book kind,—which also, when your hand is in, I may as well ask you to do. It is to send a Copy of the established Domestic-Cookery Book of Germany! We wish to see what the Germans live upon; and perhaps to make incidental experiments of our own out of that. Any Gnädige Frau [lady] acquainted with her duties will direct you what the right Book is. It need not be bound; it is for use: to get the right Book is the great point. I hope you will so far approve this International Tendency, and new virtuosity on the part of high persons here, as to lend due help in the matter!— “Absolute condition,” or “sine quâ non,” as in the former case.

I sent by a private hand,6 some two months ago, a couple of Copies of Schiller's Life, with the Autograph you had kindly lent me. My Messenger reported that you were gone to the Baths; where I suppose you still are. I hope, well?—

In November you will get Cromwell's Letters; which I hope you will be able to read. I have had a really frightful business of it with that book, which grew in my hands into rather unexpected shape;—which still detains me here, now that all the world has quitted London. Accept many salutations and kind wishes from

Yours ever truly

T. Carlyle—