October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO KARL AUGUST VARNHAGEN VON ENSE ; 22 October 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18451022-TC-KAVE-01; CL 20: 34-35


Chelsea, 22 Octr, 1845—

My dear Sir,

You have again, as you are on all occasions doing, deserved many thanks from me. The German Books, all right and fit according to the requisition, were announced to me as safe arrived, three weeks ago, while I was in Scotland on a visit to my native place there. They were sent straight to the fair hands to whom they now belonged;1 and due thanks, the real ownership of which was yours, were paid me by return of Post. The Friedrich der Grosse, I find, was perfectly correct; not less so, I will hope, the Geist der Kochkunst [Essentials of the Art of Cooking]!2 In fact you have very much obliged me by your goodness in this matter; and now if the Bookseller will send his account, it will complete the favour; and this important little matter, more important than some greater ones, will be well and kindly finished.

A few days after I wrote last, there came to me, from Lewis, your Book on Hans von Held.3 Lewis had been unwell; had hoped always to bring the Book, and never till then decided on sending it. For this Book also I will very heartily thank you. It it like a Steel Engraving;—has vividly printed on my mind the image of a Man and his Environment; and in its hard outlines, bound up by the rigours of History and Authenticity, one traces indications enough of internal harmony and rhythm. As in the Tirynthian Walls,4 built of dry stone, it is said you may trace the Architectural Tendencies that build a Parthenon and an Iliad, of other materials!— I found much to think of in this Life of Held: new curiosities awakened as to Prussian Life; new intimation that the soul of it as yet lay all dumb to us English, perhaps to the Prussians themselves. They begin to seem to me a great People: a kind of German-English, I sometimes call them; great dumb Titans,—like the other Mecklenburgers that have come to this side of the Channel so long since!5

In my Scotch seclusion I read Preuss's two Books on Friedrich, which you sent me a long time ago.6 The liveliest curiosity awoke in me to know more and ever more about that King. Certainly if there is a Hero for an Epic in these Ages,—and why should there not in these ages as well as others,—then this is he!— But he remains still very dark to me; and Preuss, tho' full of minute knowledge and seemingly very authentic, is not exactly my man for all purposes. In fact I could like to know much more about this King; and if of your own knowledge, or with Herr Preuss's help, you could at any time send me a few names of likely Books on the subject, they would not be lost upon me.

About the middle of next month, the Cromwell, which is waiting for a Portrait, and also for the return of London Population from the Country, is to make its appearance; and your Copy shall have the earliest conveyance I can find. You will, of course, try to read it; and if you can get across the rind of it, will find somewhat to interest you. Glück und Segen [Good luck and blessings] always! Yours most truly

T. Carlyle